January 25, 2016
From funding schools and fighting climate change to affordable housing and voting access, our legislators have their hands full in Olympia this year. Yet instead of focusing on any of these priorities, a group of House Republicans have introduced legislation that copies and pastes dangerous, racist laws from other states.
This week, eight Republicans in the House and twelve more in the Senate introduced legislation that would bring dangerous "Stand Your Ground" laws to Washington state. We wish that these 20 legislators had better things to do (like funding schools??), but apparently this is what comes first on their agenda. We've included a full list of the legislative sponsors at the end.
To add even more embarrassment, they shamelessly copied and pasted entire sections from model legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
ALEC is a conservative corporate front group that drafts model legislation for the oil, tobacco, and pharmaceutical industries, as well as the NRA. ALEC's "Stand Your Ground" law - also known as the "Castle Doctrine" or the "Shoot First" law - gives individuals free reign to use deadly force when they feel threatened in a wide variety of circumstances. These laws are so broadly written that it's extremely difficult to prosecute someone for a crime who claims self-defense. In addition, a Tampa Bay Times analysis of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law revealed that "reports of justifiable homicides tripled after the law went into effect."
The danger of this law exploded onto the public scene in 2012 when George Zimmerman was not arrested for six weeks after murdering Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black high school student. Local police said Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law made it impossible to arrest Zimmerman because he claimed to have killed the 17-year old in self-defense. Zimmerman was arrested 6-weeks later only after an international outcry forced action by law enforcement.
We should learn from the tragic and deadly mistakes of other states like Florida, not copy and paste their worst ideas into our laws.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what these 20 legislators have done. While ALEC influences many conservative bills, this case is somewhat unique in that the sponsors copied and pasted entire sections of ALEC's model legislation for their own bill. Take a look for yourself:
While most of the legislature is focused on funding education, the sponsors of this legislation seem to have lost track of our paramount duty as a state. We expect better from the elected officials who are sworn to represent us in Olympia. These 20 legislators have 45 days left in Olympia to show us that they're up to the task.
House sponsors of HB 2712: Reps. Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver), Dave Hayes (R-Camano Island), Dan Griffey (R-Allyn), Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick), Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley), Rep. Graham Hunt (R-Orting), Jesse Young (R-Gig Harbor), and David Taylor (R-Moxee).
Senate sponsors of SB 6487: Sens. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville), Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane), Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard), Brian Dansel (R-Republic), John Braun (R-Centralia), Sharon Brown (R-Kennewick), Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor), Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake), Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside), Curtis King (R-Yakima), Mike Hewitt (R-Walla Walla), and Bruce Dammeier (R-Puyallup).