NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, February 8th, 2018

Victory! Washington State House votes to toughen penalties for corporate crimes

Cor­po­ra­tions that break the law in Wash­ing­ton State could soon be forced to pay more appro­pri­ate penal­ties for their wrong­do­ing thanks to the work of State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Pel­lic­ciot­ti (D‑30th Dis­trict: Fed­er­al Way). By a vote of nine­ty-sev­en to one, the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives today vot­ed to pass ESHB 2362, which would sub­stan­tial­ly increase fines for cor­po­rate crimes.

Present­ly, the fine for a cor­po­rate crime is just ten thou­sand bucks. Cur­rent law dates all the way back to the Roar­ing Twen­ties — specif­i­cal­ly, 1925.

“It’s ridicu­lous that the leg­is­la­ture has failed to update cor­po­rate crim­i­nal penal­ties for near­ly a cen­tu­ry,” said Pel­lic­ciot­ti. “It is past time to hold cor­po­rate enti­ties account­able when man­age­r­i­al actions harm the public.”

Pel­lic­ciot­ti’s bill would do two things, as assessed by non­par­ti­san staff:

  • Expand the lia­bil­i­ty stan­dards and penal­ties for crimes com­mit­ted by cor­po­ra­tions to include oth­er spec­i­fied busi­ness entities.
  • Increase max­i­mum fines for crimes com­mit­ted by busi­ness entities.

The max­i­mum penal­ties for a mis­de­meanor would increase to $50,000 for a mis­de­meanor, $250,000 for a gross mis­de­meanor, $750,000 for a Class C felony, and $1 mil­lion for Class A or B felony. This bill rep­re­sents a big step for­ward for cor­po­rate account­abil­i­ty, and we thank Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Pel­lic­ciot­ti for spon­sor­ing it.

This bill makes so much sense that only Repub­li­can vot­ed against it. Every oth­er mem­ber of the House backed it with their aye vote, as the roll call shows:

Roll Call
ESHB 2362
Busi­ness entities/crime
Final Passage

Yeas: 97 Nays: 1

Vot­ing Yea: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Apple­ton, Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Buys, Caldier, Chan­dler, Chap­man, Clib­born, Cody, Con­dot­ta, DeBolt, Dent, Doglio, Dolan, Dye, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgib­bon, Frame, Good­man, Graves, Gregerson, Grif­fey, Haler, Hansen, Har­grove, Harmsworth, Har­ris, Hayes, Holy, Hud­gins, Irwin, Jenkin, Jink­ins, John­son, Kagi, Kil­duff, Kir­by, Klip­pert, Klo­ba, Kraft, Kretz, Kris­tiansen, Lovick, Lyt­ton, MacEwen, Macri, Man­weller, May­cum­ber, McBride, McCabe, McCaslin, McDon­ald, Mor­ris, Muri, Nealey, Orcutt, Orms­by, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pel­lic­ciot­ti, Peter­son, Pet­ti­grew, Pike, Pol­let, Reeves, Ric­cel­li, Robin­son, Rodne, Ryu, San­tos, Sawyer, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Shea, Slat­ter, Smith, Springer, Stam­baugh, Stan­ford, Steele, Stokes­bary, Stonier, Sul­li­van, Tar­leton, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Wer­ven, Vick, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox, Wylie, Young, Chopp

Vot­ing Nay: Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Taylor

This bill unfor­tu­nate­ly went right into the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans’ grave­yard of progress after it passed the House last year, but now that the Sen­ate has a Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty, it is assured of receiv­ing the hear­ing it deserves — and hope­ful­ly a floor vote in the Sen­ate too — after it makes its way across the Dome.

POSTSCRIPT: And just like that, ESHB 2362 has its hear­ing date. The bill will be heard in the Sen­ate Law & Jus­tice Com­mit­tee on Thurs­day, Feb­ru­ary 15th at 10 AM.

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