Washington bill would end traffic ticket exemptions for legislators

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, February 04, 2014

As promised, a Washington state lawmaker introduced a bill that would remove an option for him and his comrades to avoid traffic tickets simply because they are “working.”

Washington state’s constitution says that lawmakers “shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony and breach of the peace” while in session. It also protects them from “any civil process” during the session and the 15 days before.

The issue gained public attention following an article last fall in The News Tribune. The article reported that the Washington State Patrol and some other law enforcement agencies do not issue tickets for moving violations to state lawmakers during a legislative session, as well as 15 days prior.

Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano Island, said the 1889 law is outdated and it’s time they get rid of it altogether.

“This is a law that was written back when lawmakers traveled for days across the state to reach the Capitol, sometimes on horseback,” Hayes said in a previous news release. “And it was intended to prevent them from being obstructed from their participation in the Legislature.”

Hayes, a Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputy, introduced a bill that would clarify the authority of police officers to issue tickets.

“Elected officials who make the laws should not be excluded from the laws they make.”

The bill – HB2289 – is awaiting consideration in the House Government Operations and Elections Committee.

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