News

Hayes pursues speeding lawmakers

Rep. Dave Hayes speaks about a bill with The Record. - Justin Burnett / The Record
Rep. Dave Hayes speaks about a bill with The Record.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

The Washington State Patrol’s policy of forgiving state lawmakers for speeding during session is simply not fair, according to Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano, said.

The Republican representative from District 10 is pre-filing a bill that would clarify the authority of law enforcement to issue tickets to legislators, regardless of what’s happening in the hallowed halls of Olympia.

“Elected officials shouldn’t get special privileges,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing that makes people cynical of their government.”

Hayes, who’s also a patrol sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, said an article in The News Tribune about the issue spurred him to action. The article states that the State Patrol and some other law enforcement agencies will not issue speeding tickets to state lawmakers 15 days before or during a legislative session.

The State Patrol cites a section of the state constitution which states that members of the legislature “shall not be subject to any civil process during the session of the Legislature, nor for 15 days next before the commencement of each session.”

Hayes said the provision was written in 1889, when it took some lawmakers days to travel to the Capitol on horseback; it was intended to prevent them from being obstructed on their journey.

The bill, he said, clarifies that a traffic citation is not “a civil process” under the state constitution, clearing a way for troopers to hand out tickets to speedy legislators.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said his department is “absolutely not” among the agencies that follow the policy.

“Hell no,” he said. “I’m not going to show favoritism to anybody.”

Brown retired as a state trooper before being elected sheriff. He said he heard “a rumor” while with the State Patrol about a policy of forgiving lawmakers for speeding tickets during session, but he was never formally informed of the practice. He said he never worked in or around Olympia.

Hayes said the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office also doesn’t subscribe to the practice.

“If I stopped a legislator, I would not hesitate to issue that person a ticket,” he said.

Hayes said his bill is nearly identical to one that Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, introduced in 2005, which went nowhere.

 

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 29 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates