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WA Lege Day 24 update2: Law enforcement bills sail through House

OLYMPIA -- Both houses of the Legislature passed resolutions honoring law enforcement officers killed in West Side incidents late last year. The House of Representatives then gave overwhelming support to bills that were spawned by those slayings.

By a vote of 96-0, the House approved changes in the state's bail laws that require bail be set after an individual reports on a suspect rather than a simple schedule used by a judge that sets bail.

By the same margin the House approved tougher penalties for relatives who help a fugitive, making the lighter sentences currently available to relatives only apply to those under 18.

They also approved a bill directed at the Phillip Paul escape during an Eastern State Hospital field trip to the county fair last fall. In the future, when a mental health facility patient escapes who is either criminally insane or being treated after found incompetent to stand trial for a crime, state and local law enforcement officials must be notified, as well as other government agencies, relatives, the victim of the crime or the victim's next of kin, and any witnesses who testified against the patient in court. That bill also passed 96-0.

The House put off a vote on a constitutional amendment that would allow judges to hold some suspects without bail even if they weren't facing a capital crime. The bill was requested by the governor and supported by a bipartisan coalition. House Republicans contend the bill was delayed to let Democrats who plan to vote no to do so when relatives of the slain officers were not in the gallery.

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The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.