On the first day of session, January 10, House Bill 1614, concerning online marketplace consumer product theft and safety protection, was heard in the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Business. WR testified in favor of the legislation.
Chairman of the Committee Rep. Steve Kirby (D-29-Tacoma), the prime sponsor, held a hearing to accept testimony debate on his measure to combat the fencing of stolen and counterfeit products online. The legislation is modeled after the federal INFORM Act HR 5502 which has been largely agreed to by stakeholders and is pending before congress. There is discussion about including the INFORM Act in a “China Trade” reform package.
Retail theft accounts for close to a billion dollars in theft in Washington state annually. This leads to increased prices and loss of state and local tax revenues. Additionally, these crimes are becoming increasingly aggressive and more violent. It is becoming a matter of public safety.
HB 1614 will provide a needed tool for law enforcement to pursue, arrest, and help convict criminals and hopefully serve as a deterrent to would-be criminals.
This legislation is one part of a multi-pronged approach to retail theft and public safety. Also being discussed is the creation of a statewide organized retail crime taskforce, as several other states have adopted. This would be in addition to HB 1614, not in place of.
WR encourages the House’s swift passage of HB 1614 and the Senate holding a hearing and passing the identical companion bill Senate Bill 5533, prime sponsored by Senator Karen Keiser (D-33-Kent).