One of the roles of the International Practice Section is to comment from time to time on bills as requested by the WSBA legislative analyst. Our Section bylaws permit this subject to Washington State Bar procedures. Specifically, Washington State Supreme Court General Rule 12 (GR 12) states that one of the purposes of the WSBA is to “serve as a state-wide voice to the public and the branches of government on matters relating to these purposes and the activities of the association.” The WSBA may comment on legislation that has a statewide impact on a) the administration of justice and/or b) the practice of law. However, the WSBA may not “take positions on issues concerning the politics or social positions of foreign nations” or take positions on “political or social issues which do not relate to or affect the practice of law or the administration of justice.” Nor may the WSBA support or oppose in an election, candidates for public office.
As a Section, when asked to comment on proposed legislation, we must first determine if it meets GR 12; that means, whether it affects the administration of justice or the practice of law. Assuming a bill meets this standard, the Section may take one of the following positions on the bill:
- Support of the bill
- Concerns with the bill
- Oppose the bill as drafted
- No position
The Section’s Executive Committee has developed a legislative comment process it intends to use, time permitting, when the Section is presented with bills for comment. Because of the diverse areas of expertise within the Section, the Executive Committee may call on the general membership from time to time to provide the Executive Committee and the Section with expertise and assistance as it pertains to evaluating a bill and developing a potential position for the Section to take.
For more details about GR12, the legislative process and the positions the Section can take, see “Advocating for Change: How you Can Participate in the Legislative Process” by IPS Board Member, Bonnie Stern Wasser, Esq.
For a list of all bills the Washington State Legislature is considering, see http://www.leg.wa.gov/pages/home.aspx.
For a list of bills the WSBA is monitoring, see http://www.wsba.org/Legal-Community/Legislative-Affairs.