For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: January 4, 2006

Attorney General Wasden Announces 2006 Legislative Proposals

(Boise) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden will ask the Idaho Legislature to consider mandatory life sentences for violent sexual predators convicted of a second sex crime. Wasden unveiled his legislative agenda during a news conference in Boise this morning.

“The proposed legislation focuses on protecting the public in a variety of ways,” Wasden said. “My objectives in submitting these proposals are to protect the public from repeat sex offenders; to protect personal dignity at the end of life; to protect taxpayers from misuse of public money; and to protect personal property from frivolous liens.”

Sex Offenders

Wasden is proposing three changes in Idaho laws dealing with sex offenders. In addition to mandatory life sentences for repeat offenses by individuals who are registered sex offenders and who have been classified as violent sexual predators, the Attorney General will also ask the legislature to consider mandatory minimum sentences for repeat crimes by all registered sex offenders. He is also recommending changes in the law so that the only mechanism to relieve a sex offender of the obligation to register will be the mechanism currently in the sex offender registry statute.

“Our proposals are aimed at persons who have been previously convicted of a sex offense, are on the registry and have offended again,” Wasden said. “These are individuals who have demonstrated a propensity to commit sex crimes, have been through the penal system and have offended again. We are not proposing new statutes or punishments with regard to first time sex offenders.”

Living Wills

The Attorney General, in partnership with Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and AARP Idaho, will also ask the legislature to consider creating a statewide registry for living wills and durable power of attorney for health care.

“The registry, if approved, will help protect personal dignity at the end of life and ensure that an individual’s directives for end of life health care are followed,” Attorney General Wasden said. “All of us appreciate the assistance we’ve received on this matter from Governor Kempthorne and his staff.”

The registry would be housed in the Secretary of State’s Office. Individuals who register their living will and health care providers who have been given access by their patients would have 24-hour a day online access to the registry.

"When fully implemented, this new program will assist doctors and hospitals to gain appropriate access to this critical health care information," Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said.

The proposed legislation would not require any tax money but would fund the registry though gifts, grants, donations, bequests or other forms of contributions. Although the legislation would allow the Secretary of State to charge a registration fee of up to $10, Ysursa said he intends to pursue other funding sources in an attempt to avoid charging the fee.

“ARRP Idaho and its members are very grateful for the leadership and vision that Attorney General Wasden and Secretary of State Ysursa have demonstrated by their actions to establish a living will registry for the residents of Idaho,” said Cathy McDougall, AARP’s Associate State Director for Public Outreach. “We recognize that this legislation empowers Idahoans of all ages to direct their health care at all times during their life.”

Public Money

To protect taxpayers from misuse of public funds, Wasden will ask the legislature to consider amending the public corruption laws to include the use of public agency credit cards for personal purposes.

“Over the last three years, the county prosecuting attorneys around the state have referred to the Attorney General’s Office a number of cases involving misuse of public money,” Wasden said. “One of the principal forms of abuse that has occurred is the abuse of a government credit or purchasing card. Unfortunately, the current statute may not cover such abuse in all circumstances.”

Wasden’s proposal would expand the definition of “public moneys” to include financial transaction cards, thus clarifying that using a government credit or purchasing card for unauthorized purposes is a felony.

“Common Law" Liens

To protect personal property from frivolous liens, the Attorney General and the Secretary of State will ask the legislature to consider amending the statute dealing with nonconsensual common law liens to include personal property and liens filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. The current law covers only real property and liens filed with the county clerks.

The proposed legislation will also clarify that the victim of a frivolous lien may sue the person filing the lien and recover damages.

Capital Punishment

Wasden is also recommending that the Legislature approve two technical amendments to remove obsolete provisions from the death penalty statutes. The proposed changes would make the statutes consistent with jury sentencing.

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