A get-tough-on-gangs bill that supporters have been seeking for several years made it through a key committee this week with bipartisan support.
Sponsored by Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches, House Bill 2594 passed the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee 9-1. It would allow police and prosecutors to seek a court order -- known as a civil injunction -- to ban gang members from certain neighborhoods or from associating with certain people.
Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace, was the only committee member to oppose the bill, saying he wants an amendment limiting the length of time an injunction can be enforced. The current bill has no time limit.
"I just had some concerns that I felt could have been better addressed in the original legislation," Moscoso said in a telephone interview. "I'm looking forward to supporting it as it goes forward."
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"I'm pleased we had such great bipartisan support for this proposal," Ross said in a news release. "This is not about handcuffing someone because of the clothes they wear or friends they hang out with."
The bill would put the burden of proof on local authorities to define and notify alleged gang members under the injunction. The measure would provide legal counsel for those individuals at civil proceedings so they can afford to contest the injunction.
Civil libertarians still oppose the bill.