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Legislative Session Update – Halfway Through!

The first 30 days of session were a whirlwind, but thanks to all of you—our incredible community of advocates, survivors, and supporters—we have many wins to report. Domestic Violence Virtual Advocacy Day was a big success. We were thrilled to have such great representation from across our state. Thanks to everyone who took part in our collective action.

The majority of the bills we are supporting have cleared their first major hurdles, including:

  • Assistance to immigrant survivors of trafficking, SB 5164. This bill would provide state medical, food, and cash assistance to survivors of human trafficking and other serious crimes. WSCADV’s Kelly Starr testified in support of this bill along with MariaJose Cordero from Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and it was unanimously approved in committee. The bill now must be approved by the full Senate by February 19 to keep moving forward.
  • Comprehensive sexual health education, SB 5395.This legislation would require all public schools to provide comprehensive sexual health education, including education about healthy relationships and affirmative consent. It has already won approval by the State Senate! Now it must be approved by the House Education Committee no later than February 28.
  • Courts Open to All Act, HB 2567. This proposal would prohibit warrantless civil arrests of people who are in courthouses or travelling to court. This bill is very important for immigrant survivors, who often feel unsafe going to court for protection orders and other matters because federal immigration officials having been targeting immigrants for arrest in courthouses. To keep moving forward this year, the bill now must win approval by the full House of Representatives no later than February 19.

There is one bill that WSCADV opposes that still has a chance of passing this session. House Bill 2806 seeks to require early mediation in family law cases involving children. WSCADV’s Judy Chen testified against this bill, along with Kris Camenzind from the Human Response Network and Neetika Gupta from LifeWire.

We have long opposed forcing survivors to try to mediate family law cases with an abusive partner due to power imbalances and risks to survivors and their children. Requiring mediation early in the process, when the relationship has recently ended, is especially dangerous. While this bill includes an exception for domestic violence, it fails to ensure that survivors will know how to opt out of mediation and/or not be pressured into it despite the risks.

We anticipate that we will need your help to stop this bill. Stay tuned for opportunities to Four people standing in front of state capitol buildingtake action for the safety of survivors and their children.

And finally, we want to thank everyone who visited their legislators over the past two weeks. WSCADV staff was in Olympia daily accompanying advocates and survivors to these in-person meetings. The experiences and perspectives that were shared had a tremendous impact on legislators, as there is nothing quite like hearing directly from their constituents.

Craving more details? Please visit our State Legislative Advocacy page to see regularly-updated information about all the bills we are tracking.