By Jerry Cornfield
Lawmakers are coming forth to confess they’ve been nabbed for speeding by the state patrol after an agency spokesman said troopers aren’t supposed to ticket legislators during session.
Wahington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins cited Article II of the state’s Constitution in explaining why if a trooper stops a lawmaker for driving too fast they are “honor bound” to get them back on the road as quickly as possible without citing them.
“The idea is we do not impede them on their way to doing legislative business,” Calkins said earlier this week. The policy applies to stops for noncriminal traffic violations made during legislative sessions, special sessions and the 15 days before a session, he said.
But apparently not all lawmakers are getting a break.
Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, revealed Monday he got ticketed for speeding on a street near the Capitol in 2009 and on Interstate 5 in Pierce County in 2011.
He’s not proud of the tickets but he said he wanted to let the public know “that the words may be in the Constitution but we get treated like everybody else. It’s not been my experience there is some kind of privilege.”
Liias isn’t the only lawmaker to share their transgressions since Melissa Santos of the News Tribune first wrote about the state patrol practice. On Tuesday she filed a second story saying state Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle and a former senator, Debbie Regala of Tacoma, acknowledged receiving tickets from troopers during a legislative session.
Liias, a vice chairman of the House Transportation Committee which helps writes the state patrol’s budget, said both times he got ticketed he told the trooper he was headed to the state Capitol. But he did not identify himself as a lawmaker either time. And the troopers who pulled him over didn’t ask.
Calkins said that is probably why he got cited.
If Liias had identified himself as an elected member of the state House, the trooper would have asked for identification to prove it and then let him proceed, Calkins said.
“I can guarantee you that a state trooper doesn’t ask everybody they stop in January if they are a lawmaker,” he said. “There is no way every state trooper is going to know every state legislator by name.”