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February 19, 2002
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Senate Passes Terrorism Bill

by Melanthia Mitchell, Associated Press

OLYMPIA (AP) - The state Senate on Monday gave lopsided approval to a measure that would increase penalties for terrorist acts committed in Washington.

Senate members voted 42-7 for a bill that creates three new crimes involving terrorist intent - terrorist hoax, unlawful use or possession of biological agents and use or possession of radioactive material.

Maximum penalty for each crime would be life in prison with possibility of release, unless the act killed someone, in which case each crime could carry the death penalty.

Senate Bill 6704 also gives a judge the option to impose sentences longer than the standard range for any felony that was committed with terrorist intent.

Any person committing a felony with terrorist intent would also be subject to the state Criminal Profiteering Act, which allows the government to seize all property used to commit crimes.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, is a scaled-down version of an anti-terrorism package passed by the House on Saturday.

The House passed several bills to strengthen existing laws against terrorism, including bills to make terrorism a felony and increase law enforcement's power to eavesdrop on communications.

Kline has said he would not support a bill that included wiretapping provisions.

He said his bill takes a narrow look at terrorist intent and uses current law to establish terrorist crimes.

"These changes are needed to fill gaps in the law," Kline said. "I'm satisfied that civil libertarians will find this bill qualitatively different."

Members of the state American Civil Liberties Union have urged lawmakers not to pass terrorism legislation they say would infringe on a person's civil rights.

Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, supported the bill after expressing concerns that in its early form it would have unintentionally captured many innocent people.

"We've tried to narrow this down so we know exactly what we're dealing with," Hargrove said. "We're not creating something that is so vague that it can be a catch all."

The only spoken opposition to the bill came from Sen. Pat Thibaudeau, D-Seattle, who opposes capital punishment.

"I cannot and will not vote for an expansion of the death penalty," she said.

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