OLYMPIA – Without a single dissenting vote, the House on Thursday agreed to changes to the use of deadly force law voters approved in November and approved a new code of conduct for its members.
Changes to Initiative 940, which are being pushed through the Legislature with uncharacteristic speed, would revise the standard for judging the appropriate use of lethal force by a law enforcement officer. They also make adjustments to training officers must have to defuse dangerous situations and requirements for lending aid when a person is injured at an active crime scene.
Although I-940 passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote, both supporters and opponents agreed some language needed revisions. An attempt by the Legislature to make those changes last year was ruled unconstitutional.
Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, said the changes will protect law enforcement officers “who run toward danger when the rest of us run away.”
Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, said the impetus for the reforms are “rooted in loss” and came from ordinary people who saw a need for change. “Real people lost their lives and their friends, and loved ones spoke up and said we have to do something about this.”
A similar bill is moving through the Senate, where it is also expected to pass.
The new code of conduct was prompted by a letter from about 200 female staff members and lobbyists last year complaining of sexual harassment and misconduct. It requires all House members to conduct themselves with self-awareness and self-respect; treat others with respect, dignity and civility; and refrain from hostile, intimidating or offensive behavior.
Rep. Nicole Macri, D-Seattle, called past misconduct “a cancer upon our democracy” and said the new code is a foundation for making the Capitol a safe and respectful workplace.
“If we can’t protect our staff here in the House and Senate, then we have no moral authority to legislate how any other employer should protect their workers,” she said.
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