OLYMPIA -- Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, celebrated the signing of an anti-sex trafficking bill this week that mirrored one he introduced into the state Senate during the legislative session that ended April 22.
Although it was the House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, that ultimately passed both houses of the Legislature and landed on Gov. Chris Gregoire's desk, Delvin was there this week to collect one of Gregoire's bill-signing souvenir pens for his work on the issue.
Dickerson's bill is identical to Delvin's Senate Bill 5545, which gives police officers additional surveillance tools when working sex trafficking cases involving children.
"I am happy the Legislature has finally given law enforcement the tools it needs to effectively investigate the growing number of child sexual exploitation crimes in our state," said Delvin, who is a retired Richland police officer.
The new law goes into effect Aug. 1, and allows police to use a minor as a cooperating witness in an investigation, but only by electronic or telephonic communication with the suspect.
Current law prohibits police from using minors in sex trafficking investigations. It also prohibits police from recording conversations without the consent of both parties on the call.
The new law provides an exemption to the state's two-party consent requirement to allow police to listen in on and record conversations with people suspected of underage sex trafficking when the victim consents.
"The one-party consent option has proven to be a significant help in the investigation of drug crimes," Delvin said.
Also this week, Gregoire signed Rep. Brad Klippert's House Bill 1358 allowing saddle-mounted towing combinations of 97 feet.
Saddle-mounted towing combinations involve truck tractors towing one or more truck tractors, linked together with only the front vehicle having its front and rear wheels on the ground.
State law has banned combinations exceeding 75 feet, but Klippert, R-Kennewick, argued that Washington's law needed to be brought in line with federal regulations, which prohibit states from imposing a length for saddle-mount combinations less or more than 97 feet, according to a news release.
"Changing the overall limit will have multiple benefits," Klippert said. "Longer truck combinations mean fewer vehicles on the roadways, less carbon monoxide emissions, and a reduction of wear and tear on our highway system."
The law takes effect in late July.