After passing the Washington House earlier this month, a bill that would make more funding available for law enforcement agencies in the state to combat auto theft is now moving through the state Senate.

Seventh District Rep. Jacqueline Maycumber (R) of Republic introduced the legislation (HB 1682) and says it would make money available for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of auto theft at the local level.

"It will change the funding mechanism for fighting auto theft and put it into the hands of local governments instead of the State of Washington. That mechanism is about $4.5 to $5 million to help local governments fight auto theft."

The measure would take the state's existing auto theft prevention account, the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Account (WATP), and streamline its focus.

Under the bill, the WATP would no longer be utilized for the confinement costs of people being detained, and would instead require that these costs be provided by other state funding sources.

Maycumber adds the bill is sorely needed, especially with auto theft in Washington up by 93% since 2021.

"We really need to work on stopping this huge increase in auto theft. It changes people's lives when they have their vehicles stolen. And this bill passed out of the House with only one 'no' vote and is now in the Senate and has gone straight to (the) Ways and Means (Committee). So I'm hoping to get it onto the Senate floor very soon."

HB 1682 has 14 co-sponsors, including seven Democrats.

Its hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee is scheduled for Tuesday, March 21.

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