Rep. Liias’ bill encounters unexpected foe

OLYMPIA — A bill intended to create a new consumer protection Web site faces unexpected opposition from the state Attorney General’s Office.

The bill would provide a one-stop-shopping point with links to consumer-protection resources various state agencies already have.

“Consumers in this increasingly technological age are vulnerable,” said Rep. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, the prime sponsor of the bill. “State resources already exist, but there’s really no central location to access those resources.”

Liias said different state agencies provide helpful information on child and home care, licensing, financial issues and other subjects. “Part of the challenge is that no one agency performs all of these consumer-protection tasks,” he said

The Attorney General’s Office believes it’s crucial for consumers to have adequate access to information, said Kristin Alexander, spokeswoman for the office. In fact, the attorney general already runs a consumer-protection portal on his Web site at

The consumer-protection section of the site includes resources on identity theft, hiring a contractor, links to a list of licensed charities and tips on how to deal with credit. It also features a blog with consumer-safety updates and a question-and-answer column with the attorney general.

The attorney general’s Web site isn’t the only place for consumers to go. The state’s main Web site,, provides helpful resources as well.

“The needs of consumers are already being met,” said Lisa Erwin, senior counsel with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. “We see (the proposed site) as a duplication of services we already provide.”

Liias said his proposed Web site wouldn’t duplicate the attorney general’s efforts but merely bring people to those services. The Attorney General’s Office handles only a piece of consumer protection, he said.

Either way, Liias said he is more than willing to communicate with the office.

“I don’t understand where their concerns are coming from, but we would love to talk to them,” he said.

The freshman legislator saw his bill pass in the House Committee on Technology, Energy and Communications on Wednesday.

The chairman of the committee, Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, said the bill would help connect citizens to the right place.

“It’s not the citizens’ job to navigate the bureaucracy,” Liias said. “Washington citizens deserve free, clear and convenient access to the services they are already paying for.”

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