Legislature: Salomon to focus on salmon habitat, protecting pets, cracking down on ‘swatting’

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Sen. Jesse Salomon, D 32
Photo Washington State LSS

OLYMPIA – As the 2020 legislative session gets underway this week, Sen. Jesse Salomon (D-Shoreline) introduced a slate of bills dealing with a variety of issues ranging from cracking down on “swatting” to protecting pets left alone in hot vehicles.

One of Salomon’s first bills to receive a public hearing was Senate Bill 6147 related to shoreline armoring. 

When bulkheads and seawalls are installed, the natural process of beach and sand erosion is disrupted. This can cause a chain reaction of negative environmental impacts including the disruption of fish habitats in the area.

A lack of adequate salmon population has been identified as one of the factors jeopardizing the Puget Sound’s Southern Resident Orca population.

SB 6147 would require the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to consider less environmentally disruptive alternatives when property owners look to repair or replace bulkheads.

“Last year the Legislature took a good step in the right direction by limiting the expansion of these bulkheads,” said Salomon. “But there’s still more work to be done to protect salmon habitats and our orca population. As these bulkheads and seawalls need to be repaired or replaced, property owners should be asked to consider alternative options that may accomplish the same goals but are less disruptive to the environment.”

Anti-swatting

With “swatting” incidents on the rise, local law enforcement agencies like the Seattle Police Department are developing creative solutions to address the problem. However, Salomon believes state laws have not kept up with the severity of these crimes and need to be updated.

Salomon introduced SB 6295, which aims to cut down on swatting by increasing criminal penalties for those who make a false report they know is likely to generate an emergency response. Punishments would be increased if there’s a reckless disregard for the safety of others and someone is hurt or killed as a result of the swatting attack.

The measure also allows swatting victims to pursue civil damages from their attackers.

Pets in unsafe vehicles

In 2015, the Legislature increased the penalties for pet owners who leave their animals unattended in unsafe conditions such as a hot vehicle with the windows rolled up. The 2015 law also allows law enforcement and animal control officers to forcibly remove the animal in danger.

SB 6151 would allow firefighters and other first responders to forcibly remove an animal in unsafe conditions and be immune from property damage liability. The bill also extends criminal and civil immunity to good Samaritans who rescue the animal under certain conditions.

SB 6151 is scheduled for a public hearing on Jan. 16 at 10am in the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

Punitive damages for aiding in domestic terrorism

Salomon also introduced SB 6239, which allows someone to pursue punitive damages if they are a victim of domestic terrorism. Punitive damages are special or extra damages on top of actual damages that must be authorized by the Legislature and are generally reserved for particularly abhorrent acts.

In 2019, the Legislature passed a law allowing victims of hate crimes to pursue punitive damages up to $100,000. SB 6239 would impose similar liability for acts of domestic terrorism.

“In a worsening political environment, lawmakers need to make a clear statement about what kind of behavior is out of bounds,” said Salomon.

Other legislation sponsored by Salomon this session:

* SB 6332 – Prohibits marijuana shops from selling products with a THC concentration greater than 10%, with some exceptions for medical marijuana patients.

* SB 6333 – Places restrictions on marijuana shops aimed at reducing advertisements and marketing that target youth.

* SB 6335 – Adds climate change as a stated goal of the state’s Growth Management Act.

* SB 6149 – Places additional restrictions on motorized or gravity-siphon aquatic mining.

* SB 6153 – Reduces legal burdens and challenges for those working to restore their driving privileges.

“While this year is a short 60-day session, I’m optimistic about moving these bills through the legislative process and to the governor’s desk,” said Salomon. “This is the work my constituents sent me here to do.”

Policy bills must be voted out of committee by Feb. 7 to be considered for the remainder of the legislative session.

The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to end on March 12.

Sen. Jesse Salomon, D-Shoreline, represents the 32nd Legislative District, which includes Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Seattle, Shoreline, Woodway, and unincorporated Snohomish County.



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