April 17 was the final day for the Senate and House of Representatives to act on each other’s legislation, and it brought approval from the House for two more of Sen. Mike Padden’s bills.
Senate Bill 5437 would align Washington boating law with the state’s motor-vehicle law when it comes to driving under the influence. Senate Bill 5256 would allow coroners and medical examiners to be open about their conclusions when talking about a death that occurs in connection with a law-enforcement action or inside a correctional facility.
Both bills were amended by the House, meaning they must come back to the Senate for another look. If the Senate goes along with the House changes the bills will head to the governor’s desk; if not, the two chambers could end up appointing a small group to confer and reach agreement on a final version. In all, Padden will see seven of the bills he’s introduced this year become law.
Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said his boating-safety bill fills a gap in state law by extending the concept of “implied consent” to boaters.
“It’s implied that by driving on public roads in our state, you consent to being tested for being under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other drugs,” explained Padden, chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee. “Now that will apply to boaters too.”
Padden noted input from more than 200 interested parties had led to the conclusion that addressing the implied-consent issue would do more than any other single legislative action to increase boating safety on Washington waters.
“Nothing contributes more to boating accidents in Washington than alcohol consumption. There’s no simple fix to the problem of boating under the influence, but this will help,” he said.
SB 5256 makes clear that a coroner or medical examiner is not prohibited from discussing the conclusions he or she may have reached. Padden said the measure, which drew the interest of Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, should help restore or maintain public trust when it comes to investigations of why people have died in police custody, jail or prison.
“The public has a valid interest in these investigations; when those in authority are comfortable being candid about how and why they believe such deaths occur, it can only help,” said Padden.