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FCWPP Lobbying Update

January 21, 2004

The Steering Committee for Friends Committee on Washington State Public Policy hopes it will be beneficial to inform our activists periodically of highlights from our lobbying work during this 2004 session.  We hope you find this information useful in your support of our lobbying efforts in Olympia as you communicate with your Meeting, your legislators, and others in your community.

Expect to see Action Alerts on issues in these Updates in the future as the bills work through the legislative process.

Deric Young
FCWPP Legislative Committee Clerk

1.         Eco- Terrorism Bill Testimony:

Testimony of Alan Mountjoy-Venning before the Senate Judiciary Committee on 1-15-04 regarding SB 6114 relating to criminal offenses and civil penalties involving animals or natural resources

“Chairman McCaslin and Members of the Committee:

My name is Alan Mountjoy-Venning and I am here on behalf of the Friends Committee on Washington State Public Policy, a Quaker organization.  Friends are very concerned about the continued increase in criminal penalties, known as “sentence creep.”  There is also concern among Friends with regard to human relationships with the natural world.

This bill involves both of those concerns by seeking to significantly increase penalties for acts of conscience undertaken for the defense of the natural world.  While we do not condone property damage or personal injury in pursuit of justice, under the present laws these acts already result in both civil and criminal liability.

A number of problems exist in this bill as drafted.  Regarding the activities and organizations targeted by the bill, “Animal rights or ecological terrorist organization” in section 1 (5)

“means any…organization…or combination of two or more persons with the primary or incidental purpose of supporting any politically motivated activity through intimidation, coercion, fear, or any other means that is intended to obstruct, impede, or deter any person from participating in an activity involving animals, activity involving natural resources, animal facility, research facility, or the lawful activity of mining, foresting… (etc.).”

This language is unconstitutionally overbroad, in that it targets protected speech and other activities.  Section 2 of the bill, for example, in subsection (b)(v), prohibits

 “Entering an animal or research facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera, or other means with the intent to commit criminal activities or defame the facility or its owner.” 

The intent of this provision seems to be more to protect the facility against public knowledge of the nature of its animal practices than to protect against false statements, which is the essence of defamation.

In addition, the bill encompasses acts of conscience as “criminal profiteering,” when the only profit involves those who maintain these facilities.  To call acts of conscience, however extreme or misguided, “criminal profiteering” is false.  Acts done without financial motive, but in an attempt to aid the natural world or the public, are not profiteering and should not be so labeled or treated.

The public in Washington State has an interest in the fair and humane treatment of animals and in the welfare of nature.  Fact-finding and advocacy by individual citizens and organizations is important to developing and maintaining proper stewardship practices and appropriate public policies, and we need to facilitate that.  At the same time, sanctions for destructive acts need to be appropriate and reasonable, such as is provided for already in existing law.”

More Information:

Find more information on this bill at http://www.leg.wa.gov/wsladm/billinfo/dspBillSummary.cfm?billnumber=6114

Listen to the audio of the hearing using Real Audio at

Listen to the audio of the hearing using Windows Media at

How to Contact Your Legislators:


Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or

Write your Senator and representatives at:


Senator _______________

PO Box 4048

Olympia , WA 98504-0482


Representative ___________

PO Box 40600

Olympia , WA 98504-0600


On the web at: http://www.leg.wa.gov/ follow the link to the Senate or House, and click on your member's name to get their e-mail address.

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