HOUSE BILL 1032







                        52nd Legislature

                      1991 Regular Session



Passed by the House March 19, 1991

  Yeas 98   Nays 0




Speaker of the

       House of Representatives


Passed by the Senate April 10, 1991

  Yeas 45   Nays 0




President of the Senate












Governor of the State of Washington



I, Alan Thompson, Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the State of Washington, do hereby certify that the attached is HOUSE BILL 1032 as passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate on the dates hereon set forth.




                                      Chief Clerk











                        Secretary of State   

                       State of Washington  



                                  HOUSE BILL 1032



                             AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE


                     Passed Legislature - 1991 Regular Session



State of Washington              52nd Legislature             1991 Regular Session


By Representatives Haugen, Ferguson, Cooper, Nealey and Chandler.


Read first time January 16, 1991.  Referred to Committee on Local Government.Providing county reimbursement for selected transportation of human remains.

     AN ACT Relating to death investigations; amending RCW 43.103.030, 28B.20.426, and 43.79.445; adding a new section to chapter 68.50 RCW; adding a new section to chapter 43.103 RCW; creating a new section; and repealing RCW 68.50.030.




     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  A new section is added to chapter 68.50 RCW to read as follows:

     Whenever a coroner or medical examiner assumes jurisdiction over human remains and directs transportation of those remains by a funeral establishment, as defined in RCW 18.39.010, the reasonable costs of transporting shall be borne by the county if:  (1) The funeral establishment transporting the remains is not providing the funeral or disposition services; or (2) the funeral establishment providing the funeral or disposition services is required to transport the remains to a facility other than its own.

     Except as provided in RCW 36.39.030, 68.52.030, and 73.08.070, any transportation costs or other costs incurred after the coroner or medical examiner has released jurisdiction over the human remains shall not be borne by the county.


     Sec. 2.  RCW 43.103.030 and 1983 1st ex.s. c 16 s 3 are each amended to read as follows:

     There is created the Washington state death investigations council.  The council shall oversee the state toxicology laboratory and, together with the president of the University of Washington, control the laboratory's operation.  The council may also study and recommend cost-efficient improvements to the death investigation system in Washington and report its findings to the legislature.

     Further, the council shall, jointly with the chairperson of the pathology department of the University of Washington's School of Medicine, or the chairperson's designee, oversee the state forensic pathology fellowship program, determine the budget for the program and set the fellow's annual salary, and take those steps necessary to administer the program.


     Sec. 3.  RCW 28B.20.426 and 1986 c 31 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:

     (1) A fellowship program in forensic pathology is created in the school of medicine at the University of Washington. The program shall provide training for one person per year. The program shall be funded from funds in the death investigation account of the general fund under RCW 43.79.445.

     (2) The fellowship recipient, during the period of his or her fellowship, shall be available, as soon as his or her level of expertise warrants it, to the county coroners of the state without charge to perform autopsies, for consultations, and to provide testimony in court.

     (3) The forensic pathology fellowship shall be administered according to the provisions in RCW 43.103.030, as amended.


     Sec. 4.  RCW 43.79.445 and 1986 c 31 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:

     There is established an account in the state treasury referred to as the "death investigations' account" which shall exist for the purpose of receiving, holding, investing, and disbursing funds appropriated or provided in ((section 20, chapter 16, Laws of 1983 1st ex. sess.)) RCW 70.58.107 and any moneys appropriated or otherwise provided thereafter.  All earnings of investments of balances in the death investigations' account shall be credited to the general fund.

     Moneys in the death investigations' account shall be disbursed by the state treasurer once every year on December 31 and at any other time determined by the treasurer.  ((The above-mentioned entities and individuals may submit billings to the state treasurer prior to December 31.  The University of Washington may also submit billings for amounts not to exceed thirty-five thousand dollars per twelve-month period for the fellowship program in forensic pathology under RCW 28B.20.426 and the state treasurer shall make such payments for the fellowship program in forensic pathology under RCW 28B.20.426))  The treasurer shall make disbursements to:  The state toxicology laboratory, counties for the cost of autopsies, the University of Washington to fund the state forensic pathology fellowship program, the state patrol for providing partial funding for the state dental identification system, the criminal justice training commission for training county coroners, medical examiners and their staff, and the state death investigations council.

     The University of Washington and the Washington state death investigations council shall jointly determine the yearly amount for the state forensic pathology fellowship program established by RCW 28B.20.426.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 5.      The legislature finds and declares that sudden and unexplained child deaths are a leading cause of death for children under age three.  The public interest is served by research and study of the potential causes and indications of such unexplained child deaths and the prevention of inaccurate and inappropriate designation of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as a cause of death.  The legislature further finds and declares that law enforcement officers, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, and other first responders in emergency situations are not adequately informed regarding sudden, unexplained death in young children including but not limited to sudden infant death syndrome, its signs and typical history, and as a result may compound the family and child care provider's grief through conveyed suspicions of a criminal act.  Coroners, investigators, and prosecuting attorneys are also in need of updated training on the identification of unexplained death in children under the age of three, including but not limited to sudden infant death syndrome awareness and sensitivity and the establishment of a state-wide uniform protocol in cases of sudden, unexplained child death.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 6.  A new section is added to chapter 43.103 RCW to read as follows:

     The council shall research and develop an appropriate training component on the subject of sudden, unexplained child death, including but not limited to sudden infant death syndrome.  The training component shall include, at a minimum:

     (1) Medical information on sudden, unexplained child death for first responders, including awareness and sensitivity in dealing with families and child care providers, and the importance of forensically competent death scene investigation;

     (2) Information on community resources and support groups available to assist families who have lost a child to sudden, unexplained death, including sudden infant death syndrome;

     (3) Development and adoption of an up-to-date protocol of investigation in cases of sudden, unexplained child death, including the importance of a consistent policy of thorough death scene investigation, and an autopsy in unresolved cases as appropriate;

     (4) The value of timely communication between the county coroner or medical examiner and the public health department, when a sudden, unexplained child death occurs, in order to achieve a better understanding of such deaths, and connecting families to various community and public health support systems to enhance recovery from grief.

     The council shall work with volunteer groups with expertise in the area of sudden, unexplained child death, including but not limited to the SIDS Northwest Regional Center at Children's Hospital, the Washington chapter of the national SIDS foundation, and the Washington association of county officials.

     Upon development of an appropriate curriculum, agreed upon by the council, the training module shall be offered to first responders, coroners, medical examiners, prosecuting attorneys serving as coroners, and investigators, both voluntarily through their various associations and as a course offering at the criminal justice training center.


     NEW SECTION.  Sec. 7.      RCW 68.50.030 and 1917 c 90 s 5 are each repealed.