Gov. Christine Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5065 and Senate Bill 5098 into law Wednesday, tightening state penalties for animal cruelty and exempting the personal information of children from public inspection. Both bills were sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood.
“It’s a testament to the kinds of things the Legislature can accomplish when we work together in a bipartisan manner,” Carrell said. “This session in particular, the majority party has chosen to entertain more of our proposals and as a result, more of these good bills are becoming law. In the long run, it will only benefit the people of Washington.”
SB 5065 will bring consistency to the state’s animal-cruelty laws by defining terms like “necessary water,” “necessary food” and “necessary shelter” among other things. It will also clarify penalties for various levels of animal abuse and neglect and give animal control officers the power to issue citations for civil infractions based on probable cause.
SB 5098 will prevent people seeking to obtain the personal information of minors from using a public records request to access that data held by programs for children, teens or students, including early learning or child care services, parks and recreation programs, youth development programs, and after-school programs.
“My public records bill came about after an adult in my district involved in a custody fight over a child tried to determine the whereabouts of that child by making a public records request of the child’s community sports program,” Carrell said. “That request exposed a gaping hole in state law that my bill should now close.
“As for my animal cruelty bill,” Carrell continued, “it’s just common sense. All too often we see incidents on the news where animals are discovered living in deplorable conditions, often covered in their own filth and clinging to life – if they are still alive at all. This bill specifies exactly what it means to provide pets with what they need to live comfortably, and will also give animal control officers greater leeway when they come across instances of abuse or neglect.”
Both laws will take effect within 90 days.