FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 21, 1996
Lowry signs bills for victims rights,
EVERETT -- At the Snohomish County
Courthouse in Everett this morning, Gov. Mike Lowry signed into
law several important bills dealing with the rights and restitution
of crime victims.
"We have long dealt with the issues surrounding punishment
of criminals, but it is also necessary for us as a state to help
resolve the many difficulties that victims of crime face after
the fact," the governor said. "Today I'm proud to say
that victim assistance programs are no longer taking a back seat."
Four bills sponsored by Rep. Jeralita Costa (Marysville) were
Gov. Lowry today also signed into law HB 2652, which puts victims'
restitution above state collection of the costs of hospitalizing
criminally insane patients. This means that defendants found not
guilty of a crime by reason of insanity and housed at a state
mental hospital must first settle judgements with victims before
the Department of Social and Health Services can begin collecting
the costs of hospitalization. This bill was sponsored by Rep.
Ida Ballasiotes (Mercer Island).
The governor also signed Senate Bill 5516, sponsored by Sen. Brad
Owen (Shelton), which allows businesses to receive a 5% discount
on their workers' compensation insurance premiums if they meet
state drug-free workplace conditions. Qualifying businesses must
have documented substance abuse policies that are provided to
workers and applicants, and must make reasonable efforts to help
employees with limited English proficiency understand the drug-free
workplace policy. Also under this law, workers in participating
businesses who have sustained on-the-job injuries must submit
to drug testing unless the injury was due to circumstances beyond
the employee's control.
Lowry also signed into law SB 6272, which requires the State Patrol
to conduct fingerprinting and criminal background checks on all
school employees with regular unsupervised access to children.
Under this law, only employees hired before June 11, 1992 are
subject to the checks. School workers hired after that date have
already undergone criminal background checks.
"This is a law that will provide for a safer school atmosphere
for our children," Lowry said. "Anything we can do to
keep kids in school safe or to help them from being distracted
from the learning process is a major accomplishment."
For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.