Sen. Scott White, of north Seattle's 46th Legislative District, has dropped more pre-filed bills than any other Seattle legislator and says there's more to come. "These are just the low-hanging fruit," he told me today, speaking about measures that would create public funding for supreme court races, ban smoking in cars with minors, speed up ballot counting across the state, and add stiffer penalties for people who target the homeless for violent acts.


Why is White so far out in front? “If you wait until the first day of session to start writing legislation, you’re too late," White said.

Not that he's been writing all of these bill himself over the last few weeks. The effort to ban smoking in cars with minors is a re-do of legislation that has been floated by others—only to be shot down on nanny state grounds—in previous sessions. Same with the effort to create a public financing mechanism for state supreme court races (by charging a $3 fee for various court filings to create the public financing fund). White says public financing would prevent “the BIAW and other business oriented entities, and perhaps some other entities from out of state, from trying to influence our supreme court elections.” It's been tried before, but perhaps this is the year it will pass.

Same goes for White's effort to make it "an aggravating circumstance if an offense is intentionally committed because the defendant perceived the victim to be homeless."

The impulse to pass this measure dates back to the 1999 killing of David Ballenger, and to a more recent NPR story that White heard, in which an increase in attacks on homeless people around the country was reported. "Young, white males almost doing it for kicks," White said. “People who are homeless are facing enough challenges.” Past efforts to make the homeless a protected class so that attacks on them might be charged as a hate crime have failed. This "aggravating circumstance" measure may have a better chance.

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White also has several bills that will tweak the way the business of the Growth Management Act is conducted (zzzzzzz, but important), and then, toward the bottom of his pile, an interesting measure (also a re-try from previous years) that would prevent criminal defendants from cross-examining their victims while they're representing themselves pro-se. “Basically," White explained, "it says that if you are, say, a rape victim, it does not allow the defendant to personally represent themselves and personally cross-examine the victim in court.”

This bill is a companion to one introduced in the state house by Representative Roger Goodman (D-45), but White says he has a strong feeling about this issue that was only heightened when he visited the King County Courthouse recently and learned that a woman had just tried to jump from the building during a break from a trial. According to White: "She was faced with the prospect of, after the recess, going back into the courtroom and being cross-examined by her attacker.”

Among the bills White still plans to introduce: A companion senate bill for a measure, introduced in the state house by Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43), that would try to make the roads safer for cyclists.