Legislative Update from Rep. Ruth Kagi - Week 3

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dear Neighbors,

We have finished the third week of session.  The days are long, but the time is passing quickly. 

This week I was joined by many elected officials and staff from the cities of Lake Forest Park, Shoreline, Kenmore and Kirkland.  We talked about issues that are affecting local communities and how we can partner together to accomplish common goals.

One issue of particular concern to the City of Kenmore is the pool at St. Edward Park. I know the pool is a vital part of the community and the closure has been a struggle and hardship for residents. I am pleased that the City of Kenmore will be working with the Department of Parks and Recreation and other local cities to reach a resolution on the pool. Parks is willing to work with the community to try to do an analysis of the current state of the pool and what improvements may need to be made. There are ongoing conversations about how an analysis can be funded and who could take over operation of the pool. I will be working closely with Kenmore and the Parks Department to make sure we keep moving forward on opening the pool.

Law-Enforcement Update
After the shootings, Gov. Chris Gregoire brought together police, prosecutors and corrections officers to discuss how we could better take care of police families and close loopholes in the system that allowed Maurice Clemmons to get out of jail.
The task force came out with recommendations and proposed legislation that we are supporting in the House.    Among the ideas that we expect to vote on next week:

Helping the children and families of fallen officers and firefighters
House Bill 2519 by Rep. Tami Green (D-Lakewood) does two important things:
1) It removes the requirement that police officers and firefighters serve for 10 years before their family qualifies for benefits if they die in the line of duty.
2) It gives the children and surviving spouses of officers who die in the line of duty free tuition to public colleges and universities in Washington state, so they can get an education and rebuild their lives.
House Bill 1679 by Rep. Geoff Simpson (D-Covington) gives police officers and firefighters better catastrophic disability insurance, providing for their families if they are injured or maimed in the line of duty.

Closing loopholes that helped Lakewood shooter Maurice Clemmons get out of jail
House Bill 2625 by Rep. Troy Kelley (D-Lakewood) eliminates the practice of letting offenders post bail on the weekends according to a set schedule, without seeing a judge, as Clemmons did.
House Bill 3056 by Rep. Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe) creates public safety conditions for judges to consider prior to withholding bail for an accused offender
House Bill 2932 by Rep. Troy Kelley (D-Lakewood) improves how our criminal justice system handles mentally ill offenders.
House Bill 2781 by Rep. Christopher Hurst (D-Enumclaw) adds a one-year mandatory sentence for offenders who assault a law enforcement officer, as Clemmons did, while on community custody.

No law can guarantee that a determined criminal will not hurt or kill a police officer. If that were possible, we would do it.  But we have listened to police officers, prosecutors and corrections officers, and we agree that these are common-sense reforms that can patch holes in our criminal justice system, better protect the police officers who protect our families every day – and take care of the families of fallen police officers and firefighters who die doing their duty.  

I enjoy hearing from all of you.  Please feel free to contact my office with questions, concerns or comments.  And, if you are planning to come to Olympia during the legislative session I would love to meet you. Please call my office to set up a meeting time.

Best regards,
Ruth Kagi

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