On the same day that the Washington state House of Representatives refused to consider a bill that could reform the state's police pursuit law, it approved a bill making more funds available for local law enforcement to deal with auto thefts.
"Statewide auto thefts have increased by 93% since the summer of 2021," said Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, chief sponsor of the bill after it cleared the chamber.
House Bill 1682 was approved by the House Tuesday by a vote of 94-1. Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, was the only representative to vote against it.
Maycumber sounded off on the significance of cars, trucks, SUVs, minivans and other vehicles to her constituents.
"When an auto theft occurs it takes away our ability to live our lives," her statement continued. "For many of us, our vehicles are our lifeline. They allow us to go to work, take our kids to school, and get to much-needed medical appointments. In recent news, auto theft has resulted in heartbreaking tragedies. It is endangering lives and costing our citizens time and money while providing many substance abusers and career criminals an easy financial score."
If enacted, the bill would make money available for the "prevention, investigation, and prosecution of auto theft at the local level," in Maycumber's phrasing.
It would do so by taking an existing account, the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Account, and narrowing its focus.
WATP funds could no longer be used for the "confinement costs" of people who are being detained.
Those confinement costs would then have to come from other state accounts. The bill's fiscal note estimates a total cost to the state treasury of just over $4.6 million in the 2023-2025 biennium.
The bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
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