wa-law.org > bill > 2023-24 > HB 1538 > Original Bill

HB 1538 - Special district malfeasance


Section 1

The legislature finds that there currently exists confusion over the responsibility for prosecuting official malfeasance and misuse of funds in special purpose districts within the state, and that the attorney general and county prosecutors may have overlapping jurisdiction in some matters. It is the intent of the legislature to confirm that county prosecutors may bring charges against the governing members of special purpose districts that operate within their counties when a crime has been committed within their counties or involving people in their counties. In amending RCW 36.27.020, it is not the intent of the legislature to indicate that county prosecutors did not previously possess such authority or to substantively change the jurisdiction of county prosecuting attorneys.

Section 2

The prosecuting attorney shall:

  1. Be legal adviser of the legislative authority, giving it his or her written opinion when required by the legislative authority or the chairperson thereof touching any subject which the legislative authority may be called or required to act upon relating to the management of county affairs;

  2. Be legal adviser to all county and precinct officers and school directors in all matters relating to their official business, and when required draw up all instruments of an official nature for the use of said officers;

  3. Appear for and represent the state, county, and all school districts subject to the supervisory control and direction of the attorney general in all criminal and civil proceedings in which the state or the county or any school district in the county may be a party;

  4. Prosecute all criminal and civil actions in which the state or the county may be a party, defend all suits brought against the state or the county, and prosecute actions upon forfeited recognizances and bonds and actions for the recovery of debts, fines, penalties, and forfeitures accruing to the state or the county;

  5. Attend and appear before and give advice to the grand jury when cases are presented to it for consideration and draw all indictments when required by the grand jury;

  6. Institute and prosecute proceedings before magistrates for the arrest of persons charged with or reasonably suspected of felonies when the prosecuting attorney has information that any such offense has been committed and the prosecuting attorney shall for that purpose attend when required by them if the prosecuting attorney is not then in attendance upon the superior court;

  7. Carefully tax all cost bills in criminal cases and take care that no useless witness fees are taxed as part of the costs and that the officers authorized to execute process tax no other or greater fees than the fees allowed by law;

  8. Receive all cost bills in criminal cases before district judges at the trial of which the prosecuting attorney was not present, before they are lodged with the legislative authority for payment, whereupon the prosecuting attorney may retax the same and the prosecuting attorney must do so if the legislative authority deems any bill exorbitant or improperly taxed;

  9. Present all violations of the election laws which may come to the prosecuting attorney's knowledge to the special consideration of the proper jury;

  10. Examine once in each year the official bonds of all county and precinct officers and report to the legislative authority any defect in the bonds of any such officer;

  11. Seek to reform and improve the administration of criminal justice and stimulate efforts to remedy inadequacies or injustice in substantive or procedural law;

  12. Participate in the statewide sexual assault kit tracking system established in RCW 43.43.545 for the purpose of tracking the status of all sexual assault kits connected to criminal investigations and prosecutions within the county. Prosecuting attorneys shall begin full participation in the system according to the implementation schedule established by the Washington state patrol.

  13. Prosecute any criminal or civil actions involving a special purpose district as defined in RCW 36.96.010 that is located within the boundaries of the county or that imposes taxes, fees, penalties, or legal authority upon any person that resides or works within the county when the conduct or other action giving rise to the civil or criminal action occurred within the county, or as otherwise authorized by law.

Section 3

  1. Whenever an action based upon chapter 42.20 RCW or otherwise based on official misconduct is commenced against a member of a governing body, a county legislative authority of a county in which the special purpose district is located may suspend the member of the governing body from office until such action is concluded, and may appoint a person to fill the vacancy as necessary.

  2. Upon conviction of any offense under chapter 42.20 RCW or of any conviction involving misconduct in office, the office of any governing body member so convicted shall become vacant as provided for in RCW 42.12.010.

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