Lawmakers leave funeral bill on floor

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

The 59th state legislative session ended a day early with a few surprises, but generally less controversy.

One controversial move came on the last day when Rep. Dan Roach's funeral protest bill was not brought to the senate floor for a vote.

Roach, a 31st District Republican from Bonney Lake, sponsored the House Bill 3293, which would require protesters at funerals to stay 500 feet away. The penalty would be a misdemeanor under the state's disorderly conduct law.

The bill originated after protesters showed up at the funerals of military veterans in Yakima, Kirkland and Renton.

The measure passed the House 98-0 March 3 and moved to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“We suspended the rules in the House to get this to the Senate,” Roach said. “We worked hard to get an agreement and (Sen.) Lisa Brown, (D-Spokane) agreed to have it voted on. It was gong to be the last bill and people were standing in the aisle waiting.”

Roach said Brown, who is the majority leader in the Senate, told him she ran out of time.

“It's ridiculous,” Roach said. “We adjourned 27 hours early. There's some other reason behind it, but I don't know what it is.”

Rep. Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, speaker of the House, told Roach the bill will be one of the first three considered in the next session.

“I'll hold them to that,” Roach said. “Between now and then if anyone has to go through one of these protests we have failed as a state.”

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, said the session on the whole was a success for the 31st District.

Two of Roach's bill passed and are expected to be signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

Senate Bill 6417, prime sponsored by Roach, will make bestiality a class C felony punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The second bill that will likely be signed by the governor is SB 6364, prohibiting teak surfing, which is when people hold onto the wood platform at the stern of the boat. The danger is breathing in exhaust fumes and extremely high levels of carbon monoxide cause people to lose consciousness and drown.

“This bill will save lives, particularly young people,” Roach said.

Since 2003 two people have died from teak-surfing accidents on Lake Tapps.

Rep. Jan Shabro, R-Lake Tapps, sponsored HB 2476, a measure seeking stronger penalties for sex predators, whether they are related to the victim, or not. The measure would create mandatory sentencing along with a strict monitoring system.

The bill did not pass the house, but Shabro backed HB 3277 that increased penalties for sex crimes against children.

Shabro said 3277 did not go far enough and she intends to continue working on stronger legislation for sex predators.

Dennis Box can be reached at

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