Senator Switches Sides on Gang Bill Debate

Adam Kline will ask the governor to veto the bill.

The saga of House Bill 2712, the anti-gang legislation SW recently wrote about (see Damon Agnos' March 5 story), took an interesting turn last week. During a meeting of the Youth Violence Prevention Network (YVPN) at West Seattle's Freedom Church, state Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, originally one of the bill's biggest supporters and a co-sponsor of its Senate companion, announced that he'd be writing a letter to Gov. Christine Gregoire asking her to veto it. Kline's shift was precipitated by the Senate Ways and Means Committee's removal of funding for 2712's prevention programs, which he viewed as the most important part of the bill. They represented "a sea change in our approach," he said at a recent Judiciary Committee hearing. Now that they're gone, he doesn't believe the legislation is worth supporting. The YVPN members at the meeting all opposed the bill from its inception, and had nearly an hour of contentious exchanges with Kline on its remaining provisions, particularly the database to track gang members. The intensity of the debate belied the fact that both sides now oppose the bill. "The bill is going to be signed by the governor unless somebody talks her out of it," said Kline. In addition to Kline's letter (which includes this quote: "I urge you to see this for what it is, a three-legged stool reduced to a single leg"), YVPN plans on sending its own, along with a petition. The bill passed the House 94-1 and the Senate 46-3, so YVPN and Kline have their work cut out for them.

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