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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
2/8/2018

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.