January 1, 2014 in Region

Eleven new Washington laws go into effect today

Associated Press
 

SEATTLE – Eleven new laws take effect in Washington state today, including a measure to create special license plates for fans of the Seattle Sounders FC and the Seattle Seahawks.

The majority of new laws passed by the Legislature went into effect in July, but a few were marked for the beginning of the calendar year.

Most of the new laws are technical changes that won’t affect the everyday lives of Washington residents.

One new law on the list changes the name of the crime of riot to criminal mischief, making it easier to charge people who participate in such activities.

A similar change was made in the law concerning retail theft, changing the description of one category of crime from retail theft with extenuating circumstances to retail theft with special circumstances. This change was made because “special circumstances” are defined in existing law to mean particular aggravating circumstances and “extenuating circumstances” are not defined in the Revised Code of Washington.

Another new law says businesses should be charged a $2 fee when they request information from the state Department of Licensing about a vehicle owner. That law also requires notification of the vehicle owner when their information is shared with an attorney or private investigator.

The new sports license plates will raise money for charity. Money collected from selling the Sounders plates will go toward a veterans organization and a nonprofit that mentors youth. The Seahawks plates will support an organization that encourages teens to stay in school or return to school after they’ve left.

Another new law clarifies confidentiality rules for county coroners and medical examiners. It says these public servants are not prevented from publicly discussing findings concerning any death within their jurisdiction, including cases where law enforcement or corrections officers may be involved.

Confidentiality rules for tenant screening companies also were clarified. A new law says those service providers may not disclose a tenant’s, applicant’s or household member’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking or say whether that person previously terminated a rental agreement as a victim of those crimes.

Other new laws:

• Simplify state tax laws for small commuter airlines.

• Establish an adult family home quality assurance panel.

• Change the way electronic product recycling is paid for.

• Give some relief to small employers concerning unemployment insurance.

• Clarify who is eligible for certain state services.

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