House passes bill to clear fishing convictions

OLYMPIA — American Indian tribal members arrested while exercising their treaty fishing rights before 1975 would get the chance to clear their criminal records under a measure passed by the House.

House Bill 2080, passed by a vote of 92-6 Thursday, would allow those tribal members to apply to the sentencing court to expunge their misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony convictions.

Family members could also seek a vacated criminal record on behalf of a deceased person.

Tribal members and others were roughed up, harassed and arrested in the 1960s and 1970s while asserting their right to fish for salmon off-reservation under treaties signed with the federal government more than 100 years before. At the time, however, those act violated Washington state regulations.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

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