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Palouse Falls bill advances

OLYMPIA – Washington would have an official state waterfall under a measure passed by the House.

House Bill 2119 passed unanimously Wednesday. It would designate Palouse Falls in southeastern Washington as the official state waterfall.

Palouse Falls is located within Palouse Falls State Park, nearly midway between the Tri-Cities and Pullman. The falls drop about 200 feet from an upper to lower falls while the surrounding canyon is about 377 feet deep.

The falls and canyon were created by ice age floods from Lake Missoula that swept across Eastern Washington 15,000 years ago, according to information from the Washington state Parks and Recreation Commission. The falls were eventually named Palouse Falls to commemorate the Palouse Native American culture.

The bill heads to the Senate for consideration.

Senate passes tanning measure

OLYMPIA – The Senate has approved a measure that would ban those under age 18 from using tanning beds.

The measure passed on a 40-8 vote Wednesday and now heads to the House. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Curtis King, of Yakima, said his hope is to reduce the chances of teens later developing skin cancer.

Under Senate Bill 6065, users of tanning equipment would have to show a driver’s license or other form of government-issued identification with a birthdate and photograph. Tanning facilities that allow people under age 18 to use a tanning device could be fined up to $250 per violation.

Lawmakers address trafficking

OLYMPIA – The House and Senate both passed bills Wednesday aimed at stopping human trafficking in Washington state.

Under House Bill 2644, coercion of involuntary servitude would be made a crime. It would be illegal, under the measure, to coerce someone to perform labor or services by withholding or threatening to withhold or destroy someone’s immigration documents. In addition, threatening to tell law enforcement officials that someone is in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws as part of coercion would also be a crime.

“Involuntary servitude is essentially slavery,” said Rep. Cindy Ryu, prime sponsor of the bill. The Democrat from Shoreline added that passing the bill would create a new way to prosecute the people involved.

The Senate unanimously passed its own version of the coercion bill Wednesday night. Senate Bill 6339 was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Karen Fraser, of Olympia. Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said that it was a “bipartisan approach to fight the scourge of human trafficking.”

House Bill 1791, which passed unanimously Wednesday, would add the offense of trafficking in the first degree under the umbrella of sex offenses.

Trafficking in the first degree would be a sex offense, under the measure, if force, fraud, or coercion is used to cause someone to engage in a sexually explicit act or a commercial sex act. It would also apply if a person under 18 is made to engage in a sexually explicit or commercial sex act. The felony charge could be used in trafficking prostitution cases.



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