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DES seeking public comment on proposed updates to campus use rules

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OLYMPIA - The Department of Enterprise Services (DES) is seeking public comment through Sept. 30, 2022 on proposed updates to rules that apply to use of the Capitol Campus grounds and public areas of buildings.  

The rulemaking is limited in scope. The proposal moving forward includes: 

  • Establishing an administrative process for campus exclusion -- including an appeal process. Exclusion is an administrative process that can be used instead of citing someone for criminal trespass, which is a misdemeanor. Right now, there is not an option to use this civil process. 

  • Make technical edits for clarification and clean up purposes. This includes clarifying that Washington State Patrol (WSP) has delegated authority from DES for enforcement on the campus and that the extra step of a DES complaint is not a prerequisite. 

How to comment

Prior to proposing the rule updates, stakeholders were invited to review draft rules in July and August. At that time, the feedback we sought focused on the appeal process for exclusion rules vs establishing a new process. We would like to be clear that we are seeking feedback on all aspects of the new administrative process that is proposed. We are especially interested in feedback on whether the proposed updates: 

  • Clearly, adequately, and fairly establish a new administrative process for exclusion from the campus. Specifically do the proposed rule updates ensure clear due process and create clear return rules? 
  • Add clarity where technical edits are proposed, including the delegated authority for WSP.

Background

Campus use rules are designed to balance the conduct of government business, public access and expression of free speech, public and employee safety and welfare, the stewardship of the capitol buildings and grounds, and civic education. All three branches of state government conduct their business on the Capitol Campus, more than 40 agencies have offices here, thousands of people participate in free speech activities, and thousands more people of all ages participate in civic education tours as well as events hosted on the campus.

Protecting the right to assemble and exercise free speech is a top priority for DES and WSP on the Capitol Campus, which is a traditional public forum for free speech. It is also important to understand that free speech laws do not extend to protecting unlawful conduct including:   

  • Blocking traffic or entrances 
  • Damaging or taking other people’s permitted displays on the campus
  • Crimes like assault, vandalism or damaging the unique historical structures on campus 

When enforcement is needed, proper tools are important: There has been a change in tenor and tone of activities on the campus over the past several years, with a steady degradation of the expectation of civil and safe behavior. When groups motivated by conflict come to the campus, tactical challenges and response needs increase, and risk to campus visitors as well as those working on the campus intensifies. 

Learn more 

Information web page 

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