Trespassing is now more prevalent than ever. Forestland owners, service people, ranchers, farmers, and private individuals with land have problems with trespassers, many of whom commit theft of metal, hay, equipment, and livestock. Engrossed Senate Bill 5048 would allow property owners to use a more cost-effective approach to warn potential trespassers: fluorescent orange paint.
“The biggest challenge prosecutors have with indicting trespassers is proving that they knowingly invaded private property. We also know that posting no trespassing signs can be very expensive if you own more than one acre of land,” said Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch. “Rather than spending money on hundreds of signs, this bill would allow them to use logger’s paint, which is typically fluorescent orange, and very easy to see - even at night.”
Often, trespassers use the excuse that they did not know the land was private, and even if signs were used, the perpetrators can easily tear them down. Using paint for notice is cost-effective, efficient and is extremely difficult to remove from trees.
“People see paint as a universal message of notice against trespassing,” Sheldon said. Not to mention that signs may be written in languages that some people do not understand.”
The Senate voted in favor of a bipartisan amendment that would require actual ‘no trespassing signs’ on all access roads to the property. If a property owner uses paint to designate private property, every marked tree must be no more than 100 feet apart in forestland, and no more than 1,000 feet for all rangeland.
The bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote of 38-11.
WA Lawmakers Eye New Rules For Custody Cases
Washington lawmakers are looking to implement new rules to protect children in custody disputes.
The state Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday in response to the case of missing Utah mother Susan Powell. Josh Powell was the subject of an investigation into his wife's disappearance last year and locked in a custody battle with her parents when he killed himself and the couple's two young children.
The proposed law would require state officials to consult with law enforcement about visitation matters when a parent is an identified suspect in a criminal investigation that could impact the safety of the child. Powell was not a declared suspect in his wife's disappearance but was named a person of interest.
The bill now goes to the state House.
WA State House Oks Nonparental Visitation Bill
The Washington state House has passed a measure to make it easier for grandparents and others with a close relationship to a child to secure visitation rights.
The bill passed Thursday applies to people having a substantial relationship with a child lasting at least two years or half the child's life.
It does not apply to a person who knows a child only through paid or volunteer service, such as coaching or teaching.
The main proponents of the bill are grandparents who have been cut off from their grandchildren.
Opponents said the bill is overly broad and represents an attack on parental rights.
The measure passed by a vote of 56-40, with two Republicans joining a unanimous Democratic caucus voting in favor.
It heads next to the Senate.
WA Senators Want More Scrutiny On Tax Breaks
Washington state senators want more scrutiny of the tax breaks that the Legislature passes.
A proposal approved Thursday would require tax preferences to have both an expiration date. It would also require lawmakers to include a provision explaining the intent of the tax break.
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom says the bill will bring more accountability to the tax breaks that lawmakers approve. He says the intent information will allow officials to better assess whether the tax incentives are helping achieve the Legislature's goals.
He says that information will allow lawmakers to make better decisions about whether the tax preferences should be extended.
The Senate approved the measure unanimously, sending the plan to the House.
WA House Passes Voting Rights Act
The House has passed a measure to reform representation of minorities in local elections.
The "Washington Voting Rights Act" passed Thursday on a 53-44 vote. The measure allows for minority individuals or groups to seek court-mandated orders to jurisdictions to reform their elections.
Those jurisdictions include towns and cities of 1,000 people or more, school districts, fire districts, counties, ports among others. Among the remedies is shifting from at-large elections to district-based elections to better represent residents.
The push behind the measure is the history of elections in Central and Eastern Washington, specifically Yakima County where the American Civil Liberties filed a lawsuit last year against the city of Yakima.
Forty-one percent of Yakima's 91,000 residents are Latino but the city has never elected a Latino member to its at-large city council.
House Oks Early Voter Registration Starting At 16
The Washington state House has passed a measure allowing 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote when getting a driver's license.
Under the bill passed Thursday, those choosing to pre-register would become registered voters upon turning 18. Bill supporters said the measure would make it easier for young people to vote. Opponents called it a political stunt that would result in minors accidentally being mailed ballots.
The bill passed by a vote of 55-42, with one Republican joining a united Democratic caucus to vote in favor.
House Oks Extending Online Voter Registration
The Washington state House has passed a measure to extend the online deadline for registering to vote from 29 days to 11 days before an election.
The original version of the bill that passed Thursday would have allowed same-day in-person voter registration, but bill supporters said election officials told them that would be too onerous.
Instead, in-person registration would be allowed up to 11 days before an election instead of the current eight days.
Democratic Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon of Burien is the bill's sponsor. He said granting more than two additional weeks for online registration outweighs losing three days for in-person registration.
The bill would also allow county auditors to designate a separate location for in-person registration.
The measure, which passed by a 64-33 vote, goes next to the Senate.
WA May Approve Alcohol Tasting For Some Teens
Washington senators are moving ahead with a proposal that would allow older teens to taste alcohol in college classes.
The plan approved Thursday by the Senate would permit alcohol tasting for students enrolled culinary, beer technology or similar programs. The students must be at least 18 years of age and supervised by faculty or staff at a community or technical college.
Students are supposed to taste but not consume the alcohol.
Supporters say the proposal would improve educational programs for students and help them learn about an important industry.
Democratic Sen. Jim Hargrove of Hoquiam opposed the measure, saying he fears that the bill is the first of many that would lower drinking ages and expand access to alcohol.
The measure passed 42-7 and now goes to the state House.
WA Senate Approves School Accountability Plan
The Washington Senate is moving ahead with a plan that could lead to the shutdown of the state's worst schools.
A bill approved Thursday would give schools money and time to turn around their performance. If schools fail to improve, the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction would come in to try and turn around the school.
The school could ultimately be shuttered if it doesn't improve.
Republican Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island says the state needs to intervene in schools that keep falling short. Democratic Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe of Bothell says she opposed the plan because it takes away control from local school boards.
She also says there are many low-performing schools in the state and that lawmakers can best help by providing more resources.
The measure passed by a 30-19 margin and now goes to the state House.
House Oks Bill On Nonpartisan Election Vote Rules
The House has unanimously approved a measure that requires the top two vote getters in nonpartisan races to advance to the general election.
The bill passed Thursday and now heads to the Senate for consideration. Current election law already has that top two advancement requirement in place for partisan races. However, an exception has existed for Supreme Court justices, judges for court of appeals and superior court and for the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
In those nonpartisan races, if a candidate receives a majority of the vote in the primary, their name appears alone on the general ballot, meaning they were essentially elected in the primary.
The bill passed by the House removes that provision.
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