This week on “The Impact”:
When a hard fought legislative compromise between police reform activists and law enforcement organizations was rejected by the Washington State Supreme Court as an unconstitutional initiative process workaround, the stakeholders wound up at odds during the Initiative 940 campaign. Now that voters have weighed in to make I-940 the law of the land, sponsors and the LEO’s are back in Olympia supporting a modified version for the second time.
In revamping the law that governs police accountability for the use of deadly force, I-940 removes the “malice” requirement for proving wrongdoing on the part of officers. Law enforcement association representatives said the new two part test to determine culpability was too complicated and they reached an agreement with initiative sponsors to use a simpler standard based on what a reasonable officer would do in the situation.
Other changes in the revised legislation are the addition of funding to cover the legal fees of officers who are acquitted and a more specific definition of the new legal requirement that officers provide first aid at the scene of a deadly force incident. The compromise deal was bundled as modifying legislation when lawmakers addressed the initiative to the legislature earlier this year. However, they passed the modifying legislation prior to passing the initiative and critics of the process challenged it in court.
Ultimately the bill was struck down by the state supreme court in a ruling that sent the original version of I-940 to the ballot.
“Legislators really led the way on that especially Representative Goodman, to talk about the issues law enforcement had about this initiative in the first place and we sort of said we know where’ you’re going with this, but there’s a lot of unintended consequences and things that maybe we could clarify. And to their great credit the De-Escalate folks and the initiative backers said let’s sit down and talk about that. They said we want to support law enforcement and they, they backed it up, said Steve Strachan, Executive Director, Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.
“The back story is there’s relationships that you have to build way before you get to this point in the agreement. If you’re not in the room building these relationships bringing people together it is unlikely when you get to the end that you’re going to have some type of consensus for change. So I would always encourage people when they’re building a grassroots movement. Don’t separate people,” said Andre Taylor, I-940 supporter and founder of Not This Time. “You have to go into a room with people as hard as it is, as pained as you are, expecting that people feel the way you feel are with you until they show you that they are not, but at least try to build something. At least try to bring people together and that includes law enforcement at the table. If you don’t bring them to the table you can’t hold them responsible. If they don’t bring us to the table they can’t hold us responsible.”
What changes, if any, should legislators make to the state tax code? That’s a question at the heart of a work group which recently wrapped up a multi-city listening tour. We sat down with two lawmakers spearheading the House Tax Structure Work Group to talk about what they’re hearing from business owners and other taxpayers and to find out what changes could be on the horizon.
“We have so many little fees all over the place. People feel like they are constantly being taxed,” said Rep. Noel Frame (D). “Personally I feel like the inadvertent unintended consequence of avoiding certain revenue sources in our code is that it’s like death from a thousand cuts.”
“Before we just jump in and pass some kind of new tax we’re going to have to be very careful,” said Rep. Terry Nealey (R). “Some of the top earners are salaried some of them own businesses so if we brought an income tax in how many of those people would leave the state?