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Session brings mixedbag for Plateau
Local legislators experienced some successes, along with a few failures, during the recently-wrapped session of the Washington State Legislature.
During the “short session” that adjourned a day early on March 8, lawmakers from the 31st Legislative District attempted to push bills aimed at everything from bestiality to funeral protests.
The following are a few highlights (or lowlights) that pertain to the Plateau region.
The 2006 supplemental operating budget passed by the Legislature included $150,000 in one-time funding for costs associated with the Logging Legacy Memorial Park project in Enumclaw.
Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, who had the project placed in the Senate version of the operating budget last month, was pleased to see it remain in the final plan forged by House and Senate budget negotiators.
“It's important that we always remember Enumclaw's logging heritage,” Roach said. “I think it's fitting for the state to support a monument that remembers loggers who lost their lives, and symbolizes an industry that was so important to our area.”
Enumclaw resident Mike Bumstead, who through the Bumstead Family Foundation was an original donor to the monument project, was very pleased when he learned the operating budget includes funding for it.
“I'm ecstatic,” Bumstead said. “The help that the state is giving to this project is significant, so this is awesome. We all benefit from logging, but we haven't done anything to honor it. It really is a state monument for all those who have given their lives and limbs for this industry.”
“The money for the monument in the state budget is great news,” agreed Tom Poe, an Enumclaw businessman who spearheaded the proposal and is one of the project's board members. “It will definitely help us get closer to reaching our fundraising goal.
“By creating this monument, we can show the historical significance of the logging industry in Enumclaw, our state and the Pacific Northwest region,” Poe added.
The proposed monument would be a bronze, steel and sandstone sculpture showing two oxen pulling a log while being led by a logger. Plans call for the memorial to be 14 feet high, 14 feet wide and 40 feet long, with a stone walkway and landscaping encircling the sculpture. The monument would be located in front of the Enumclaw City Library on Griffin Avenue.
The project is estimated to cost $470,000, Poe said. Steve Moergeli, another board member, said the project has raised nearly $267,000 so far.
“The Enumclaw citizens who have worked hard on the project deserve so much credit,” Roach said. “The state's funding for the monument will put its fundraising goal well within reach.”
A bill prime-sponsored by Sen. Roach that outlaws bestiality was approved by the Legislature after the House of Representatives passed it 98-0.
Roach's proposal, Substitute Senate Bill 6417, makes bestiality a Class C felony, which is punishable by a maximum five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Anyone videotaping such acts also could be convicted under animal-cruelty laws. Offenders might also be restricted from owning animals and could be placed into counseling.
Pasado's Safe Haven, an animal-rights group based in Sultan, first approached Roach for the bill following a widely publicized case in which a man died of injuries last July while having sex with a horse at a farm near Enumclaw.
“Animals are innocent. They cannot consent,” Roach said. “It's wrong, and now the law says it's wrong. It's hard to believe we even need a law like this, but the incident that occurred last summer made it clear that we do. People shouldn't be allowed to treat animals this way.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Washington has been one of 14 states where bestiality is not explicitly prohibited.
State Rep. Dan Roach was stunned when his bill to curtail certain funeral protests didn't get consideration.
“It is a slap in the face to the families of our soldiers who have died while protecting our country,” Rep. Roach said, alleging that Senate Democrats reneged on a promise to resurrect the funeral protest bill before adjourning.
Roach's measure, House Bill 3293, would have required protesters at funerals to remain at a distance of 500 feet or be charged with a misdemeanor under the state's disorderly conduct law. The measure was sparked by protests conducted by a hate group at the funerals of military veterans in Yakima, Kirkland and Renton. The bill passed the House 98-0 and was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it sat without movement.
In the hours before the Legislature adjourned, Senate Republicans received a signed commitment from Senate Democratic leaders who promised to bring the measure to the Senate floor for a vote. The measure was to be brought up along with a firefighter pension measure wanted by Democrats. The pension bill was considered and passed from the Senate, but when it came time to bring up Roach's bill, Senate Democrats moved ahead toward ending the session without considering the bill.
“I'm absolutely baffled,” Rep. Roach said. “When you make a promise, you should keep it, especially if it is a promise to the families of veterans who have died in the service of our country.”
Roach didn't buy the explanation that the Legislature simply ran out of time. “We were in the 59th day of a 60-day session and Senate Democratic leadership put expediency of early adjournment ahead of the veterans of our state and their families,” Rep. Roach said.
At a news conference, Speaker Frank Chopp offered to make HB 3293 one of the first bills the House votes on next year. Rep. Roach said he will hold the Speaker to that promise.
“The unfortunate part is that is months away. If just one family is violated by these protesters, it will be because of this broken promise, and the responsibility for that horrendous act will lie squarely with the Senate Democratic leadership who has failed these families,” concluded Rep. Roach.