State Capitol in Olympia. FILE PHOTO

State Capitol in Olympia. FILE PHOTO

Hundreds of new laws will take effect in state June 6

Legislature approved changes in police pursuits, parental rights, firearms and other laws

By Laurel Demkovich/Washington State Standard

New limits on carrying guns openly in public, loosened restrictions on police pursuing suspects, a shorter time period for mortuaries to store unclaimed human remains, and a ban on octopus farming.

What do all these topics have in common? They’re covered by some of the 310 laws set to take effect in Washington this Thursday.

Most bills passed during the legislative session and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee go into effect 90 days after lawmakers gavel out for the year. This year, that day is June 6.

Here’s a look at some of the changes coming your way later this week.

Police pursuits

Among the most controversial proposals approved this year were three citizen initiatives that legislators passed into law instead of sending to voters in November.

One will expand when law enforcement officers can pursue suspected criminals, removing controversial restrictions put in place in 2021 as part of a suite of police reform laws.

Under those limits, officers could only conduct a high-speed vehicle pursuit if they had reasonable suspicion that someone had committed or is committing one of a specific set of offenses involving violence, sex crimes, intoxicated driving, or trying to escape arrest.

Beginning Thursday, officers can pursue someone if they have reasonable suspicion a person has violated any law.

Law enforcement officers and Republican lawmakers often criticized the stricter policy, which they said has led to an increase in crime. Democrats argued easing the restrictions would lead to more people, including bystanders and officers, getting hurt or killed during risky pursuits.

Parental rights

A parental “bill of rights” will also go into effect on Thursday, giving parents of K-12 students the ability to easily review school materials and medical records and opt their children out of assignments involving questions about their sexual experiences or their family’s religious beliefs.

The measure was another of the three citizen initiatives that lawmakers approved. Supporters said it was a way to ensure parents don’t feel left out of their child’s education. Democrats who voted for the initiative said it would have limited effect and that many of the protections it sought to provide were already enshrined in other state laws.

But the law has received backlash from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and even prompted a lawsuit spearheaded by the ACLU of Washington and others, which argues that students, parents and school districts will be harmed because of it. The lawsuit also contends the initiative was drafted in a way that violates the state Constitution.

No income tax

The last of the three citizen initiatives will prohibit Washington and its local governments from imposing taxes on personal income.

The proposal will not change any laws as Washington does not have an income tax and there are no plans to impose one.

Still, supporters of the ban argue that the Legislature should honor voters’ long-held opinions that the state should not have an income tax and codify that position in state law.

Hog-tying

Police will no longer be allowed to hog-tie people they’re placing under arrest. The new law defines hog-tying as fastening together a person’s bound or restrained ankles to their bound or restrained wrists. Most departments across Washington already ban the practice.

The change in state policy came four years after Manuel Ellis died in custody while hog-tied facedown on a Tacoma sidewalk. Although a jury acquitted three police officers over Ellis’ death last year, the case remained a rallying cry for racial justice activists in the Pacific Northwest and prompted state lawmakers to ban hog-tying, which many criticize for its suffocation risk.

Child marriage

Child marriage will also be banned in Washington beginning Thursday.

Under the new law, any marriage where either person is under 18 years old is void. The age requirement only goes into effect for marriages on June 6 or later. It also removes language that allows a superior court judge to waive the age requirement and allows a county auditor to issue marriage licenses to 17-year-olds.

Co-living

Small, independently rented residential units with shared kitchens and common spaces will be legal again in cities and counties across Washington.

This dorm-like housing, known as “co-living” housing, was once common in cities across the country but local governments restricted it in recent decades. Advocates say allowing co-living is one of the best ways to increase the amount of affordable housing.

Firearms

Guns and other weapons will no longer be allowed in public libraries, zoos or aquariums or transit facilities.

Knowingly possessing a weapon in any of these places will be considered a gross misdemeanor, though there are some exceptions for those with a concealed carry permit, correctional officers, or color guards and honor guards.

Open carry of weapons is already limited in courtrooms, jails, schools, the state Capitol grounds and near permitted public demonstrations.

Human remains

The time period that mortuaries must keep unclaimed human remains will be shortened from 90 days to 45.

A new law aims to help counties who say they are running out of cooler space to store human remains when no surviving family members are available or willing to claim responsibility for the body.

In addition to shortening the waiting period, the new law adds counties to the list of groups allowed to dispose of the remains.

Halal foods

Knowingly misrepresenting food as halal when it is not will soon violate the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

A new law aims to protect Muslim consumers from purchasing food that is mislabeled as halal, which is defined as a food product that is prepared, processed and maintained in strict accordance with Islamic principles and customs.

Octopus farming

A new law banning octopus farming statewide will take effect on Thursday.

Although Washington does not currently have any octopus farms, lawmakers felt the need to protect the eight-limbed creatures after research has shown that they are sentient beings capable of feeling happiness and distress.

• Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.


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