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State Legislative Advocacy

We advocate for positive changes that improve Washington State’s response to domestic violence and increase survivors’ options for safety and independence. We do this through tracking bills, lobbying in Olympia, and informing and mobilizing our membership to take action on important policy and budget issues.

Stay up-to-date on our priorities and events by signing up for our action alerts!

2022 Legislative Session

See our 2022 Legislative Summary for final versions of bills, effective dates, and budget highlights.

Survivor households are facing increased levels of violence, fewer options, and cascading struggles set off by the pandemic. Domestic violence programs throughout the state are experiencing large caseloads and requests for services while facing funding cuts, more complex survivor needs, an affordable housing crisis, and staffing challenges. Multiple domestic violence programs have seen a 50% increase in calls to their helplines since the beginning of the pandemic, and requests for legal services and housing assistance have greatly increased. Continuation of domestic violence services and safety for survivors and their children are our priorities. 

Session will run from January 10 to March 10, 2022. We will update this page regularly with information on the bills we are prioritizing. This report is summary of the bills we worked on during the 2021 session.

The following is a list of the bills we are working on, beginning with our priorities, other bills we are supporting, bills we are opposing, and ending with bills we are monitoring, but have no position on.

  • “SB” denotes bills originally introduced in the Senate. “HB” denotes bills originally introduced in the House of Representatives.
  • Bills listed together (e.g., “HB 1234 / SB 5678”) are “companion bills” that, as introduced, are generally identical in substance, but are given different bill numbers because they are introduced in both chambers. Only one of the bills, either the House or Senate version, must advance in order for the legislation to become law.

WSCADV Priorities

Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Supplemental Funding

Our $7.5 million funding request was included in the final budget!

(Budget Request: $7.5 million for crime victim services). It is crucial that in this time of increased need and compounding struggles, domestic violence programs can have the funding they need to stabilize essential advocacy services for survivors. Programs count on federal VOCA funding to meet survivor needs like legal advocacy, mental health support, and safe housing assistance. This funding also allows programs to invest in adequate staffing, living wages, and advocate training. This essential funding is at risk. We must stabilize these vital services. In 2021, the legislature passed our request for $15 million in supplemental funding, but due to further shortfalls, more is needed. This year, the legislature must approve $7.5 million for crime victim services in state supplemental funds. 

“Demand for victim services has increased but reduction in federal VOCA dollars have resulted in an already underfunded system having to face even more program cuts. Victim response and civil legal aid [for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault] are having to do more with far less. This gap is not sustainable and puts the well-being of children, poor and marginalized families, and individuals at risk.” –Eastern WA Domestic Violence Program Director 

Affordable Housing Funding

(Capital Budget Request: $500 million for affordable housing). Domestic violence survivors and their families desperately need both temporary and permanent housing! WSCADV is supporting a $500 million Capital Budget ask which includes the Governor’s proposed $434 million. An investment of $100 million into the Housing Trust Fund will build 1,500 new affordable housing units. Domestic violence programs have access to these funds to build or purchase and renovate housing dedicated to survivors. A $334.7 million investment for rapid acquisition could build 2,460 new shelter and permanent supportive housing units. Domestic violence agencies could secure their own units dedicated to survivors or partner with housing and homeless programs to benefit survivors. The balance of this ask is for Crisis Stabilization Facilities for those experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Most of the unsheltered homeless population has experienced abuse and trauma starting in childhood and continuing in their adult relationships. The legislature can make a difference in ending the cycle of violence and homelessness with this investment.

Bills we support

Protections and services for missing, murdered, trafficked indigenous persons (HB 1571)


 This comprehensive bill will work to address the lack of resources for missing, murdered, or trafficked Indigenous persons. It adds requirements for county coroners and medical examiners regarding spiritual practices, contacting family members, and returning remains. This bill increases law enforcement responses through trainings and establishing a Red Thunder Alert designation. Subject to availability of funding, the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) will establish a competitive grant program to establish a pilot project providing wraparound services to indigenous survivors of trafficking.

Expanding the Landlord Mitigation Program (HB 1593)  


Survivors may need to break their lease, or may incur damages in their rental because of domestic violence. This bill will expand the Landlord Mitigation Program to allow landlords to claim for damages related to rental when the tenant has terminated their tenancy because of domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment, or stalking. This expansion would improve safety by reducing barriers for survivors when exercising their right to terminate a lease early without repercussions.

REET Exemption (HB 1643)


Domestic violence puts families at risk of homelessness, if not because of safety needs, then because of economic impacts. Survivors are often caught in a cycle of homelessness. The Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV) Domestic Violence Housing First evaluation data shows that at baseline, 73% of participants reported a prior history of homelessness. Of those, 33% had been homeless at least once before the age of 18. The Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) Exemption serves as an incentive for the sale or transfer of real property to affordable housing developers. This would be a critical step in creating more low-income housing available to survivors in need of housing stability and safety.

Endangered missing indigenous persons advisory (HB 1725) 


This bill addresses the lack of resources that missing Indigenous people’s cases are facing. Indigenous people, particularly women, go missing and are murdered at higher rates than any other demographic in the nation. Currently, families of missing Indigenous persons bear the responsibility of searching for their missing loved ones due to inconsistent responses from law enforcement. This bill requires the Washington State Patrol to establish a Missing Indigenous Women and Persons alert designation as part of its Endangered Missing Person Advisory plan.

TANF time limit extensions (HB 1755)


Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) plays a critical role in providing a safety net for survivors. State and federal laws limit the time an adult can receive TANF benefits to a total of sixty months in their lifetime. Time limit extensions are additional months of TANF when someone meets certain criteria. This bill will add time limit extensions during times of high unemployment in our state.

Prohibiting nondisclosure agreements (HB 1795)  


This bill repeals the statute prohibiting nondisclosure agreements regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace. It makes void and unenforceable provisions in agreements between an employer and employee that prohibit disclosure of conduct that is illegal discrimination, harassment, retaliation, a wage and hour violation, or sexual assault. This bill has a retroactivity clause.

Access to abortion care (HB 1851/SB 5766)  


This bill updates the Reproductive Privacy Act by using gender neutral language, expanding the list of professions who can provide abortion care, and adding protections for pregnancy outcomes and aiding a pregnant individual in exercising their right to reproductive freedom with their voluntary consent. Everyone should be free to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive well-being, including the decision to have children, or not. Survivors need access to reproductive health services that respect their dignity and safety.

Safe staffing in healthcare (HB 1868 / SB 5751)

Failed to pass. 

This bill ensures healthcare workers receive fair compensation, overtime pay, adequate breaks, and secure scheduling, and are better able to navigate the complex safety considerations for themselves and their families. This will allow survivors who are healthcare workers to have access to these necessary benefits. Also, when survivors need to access emergency or urgent healthcare related to the abuse they experience, this law would ensure that healthcare workers are better able to be present, listen, and address their medical and safety needs at the time of the incident. 

Creating new health profession for birth doulas (HB 1881)


This will recognize birth doulas as a new health profession and allow them to voluntarily apply for state certification, paving the way for doula coverage under Medicaid. Birth doulas not only advocate for birthing families in the systems they encounter, but also support medical self-advocacy. They increase self-determination for birthing parents by supporting them to define what they want and need before and after birth- very much like survivor-centered advocacy does. Recognition of the emotional support and advocacy of birth doulas also improves equitable access for Black and Brown survivors and their families to health care services during pregnancy and after giving birth – improving maternal mortality and prenatal outcomes for families. Everyone should be free to make decisions about their own bodies.

Working Families Tax Credit fix (HB 1888)


This fix will allow the Department of Revenue to adjust the rates of remittance reductions in the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) in order to align with federal maximum qualifying income levels. This is a technical fix to the Working Families Tax Credit law that ensures that the maximum qualifying income levels adjust each year to match the federal income tax levels. It means survivors who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will also qualify for the WFTC.

Civil protection orders (HB 1901 / SB 5845)  


This is a trailer bill from E2SHB 1320, last session’s Protection Order Reform bill. The bill seeks to minimize delays and make the protection order system less complex, enable comprehensive use of electronic filing, case tracking and records management systems, provide judicial offers with expertise and training in protection orders and trauma-informed practices and continuity of judicial officers at hearings, ensure compliance with timely and comprehensive firearms relinquishment, and require courts to make publicly available in print and online information about their transfer procedures, court calendars, and judicial officer assignments. This bill also includes a comprehensive definition of coercive control that would be added to the definition of domestic violence for civil protection orders. While all can agree that coercive control is part of domestic violence, WSCADV member programs have a diverse range of opinions on how coercive control would be implemented in their local jurisdictions for DVPO’s. An amendment requiring the Gender and Justice Commission to conduct a study on the implementation of coercive control was adopted in the House. As this bill moves through the Senate, WSCADV will support.

Public disclosure (HB 1956)


This bill will protect sensitive prison records from being released through the Public Records Act. Current law allows the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) to release highly personal records to anyone who requests them. Sensitive records at risk of disclosure include body scanner images of women in prison, sexual abuse prevention plans, transgender status, genital anatomy, sexual orientation, disability status, and mental health information. If passed, this legislation will protect the dignity, privacy, and safety or currently and formerly incarcerated Washingtonians.

Evergreen basic income trust (HB 2009)

Failed to pass.

The Evergreen Basic Income Trust (EBIT) is a guaranteed basic income (GBI) program, which provides regular, unrestricted cash payments to Washington residents who meet certain criteria. Participants will receive a monthly payment that is equal to the cost of rent for a 2-bedroom unit in the participant’s area of residence and can be receive these payments for up to 36 months. This benefit could be a game changer for survivors who are dealing with or recovering from economic abuse, by giving them the cash they need to secure housing, transportation, or other things necessary to stay safe and stable.

Housing Justice Act (HB 2017)

Failed to pass. 

This bill addresses housing concerns for individuals impacted by the criminal legal system. Having a criminal history is a significant risk factor for housing instability and homelessness. This risk factor is also significant for domestic violence survivors who have a criminal history record. The current work WSCADV is doing with Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF) is confirming that survivors with a criminal history face higher barriers to housing and need more intensive advocacy support in order to find safe and stable housing. This bill addresses housing discrimination against people impacted by the criminal legal system by restricting the use of a conviction history as a reason to deny housing. We know through our work with DVHF that housing is the first step toward stability, employment, treatment, mental health support, and services designed to help individuals with rehabilitation and healing. 

Enforcing tenant protections (HB 2023)

Failed to pass.

This bill provides tenants a quick way to enforce their protections. Under this bill, tenants can file a petition with the court and be heard within 14 days to address any violations of tenant law, their rental agreement, or abusive practices by the landlord. Examples of violations able to be petitioned include incompletion of necessary repairs to a unit, a landlord that harasses or uses retaliation against a tenant, and any violations of victim protection laws for survivors. This bill would provide a critical avenue for all tenants of Washington, including survivors, to receive relief from violations of their rights.  

TANF time limit (HB 2048)

Failed to pass.

This bill broadens exemptions for families on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) beyond the 60-month lifetime limit. Exemptions are extended to those who are temporarily prevented from working, are in need of mental health or substance use disorder treatment, are homeless or at risk of losing stable housing, or demonstrate another basis by which time limits would cause undue hardship. These changes will increase racial equity in access to TANF and give survivors more ways to ensure that they can keep this vital benefit when they need it most. 

DSHS service requirements (HB 2075


This bill will require the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to meet a minimum level of requirements when working with people eligible for services in our state. Specifically, it would require that DSHS ensure that clients may apply for and receive services in a manner that is suited to the clients’ needs, whether this is remotely or in person. It would require that Community Service Offices (CSOs) are open for in person services, both walk-in and appointments. If DSHS cannot meet these minimum standards, this bill will prohibit them from sanctioning cash benefits of people accessing services.  

Working Families Tax Credit fixes (HB 2096) 


This bill is request legislation from the Department of Revenue. Its purpose is to codify technical fixes to the Working Families Tax Credit legislation as the Department prepares to implement this program in 2023. WSCADV supports these technical fixes that will ensure that people with lower incomes, many of whom are survivors, will have easy access to the Working Families Tax Credit. 

Courthouse Dogs (SB 5127) 

Failed to pass.

This bill will increase access to therapy dogs that help children and vulnerable adults tell their stories of survival. Since courthouses have been closed because of the pandemic, this will allow those dogs access to public spaces so they can go to survivors to provide much-needed comfort when recounting their trauma. 

Crime victim notification (SB 5245)


This bill will expand the crimes eligible for the Department of Corrections (DOC) notification to victims and witnesses, adding domestic violence, among others. This notification will provide survivors with some additional time to plan for their safety prior to the release of the person who caused them harm.

Victim statements during DV hearings (SB 5612)


Currently, victims of crime are able to provide a statement at sentencing hearings for felony convictions. This bill expands the ability for domestic violence survivors, or their survivors, to provide a statement for convictions involving domestic violence.

Modifying Paid Family & Medical Leave (SB 5649)  


This bill will make Paid Family and Medical Leave more compassionate and equitable, and easier for survivors to access by: allowing people to apply up to 45 days in advance of an expected leave, extending family caregiving leaves up to 14 days after the death of the family member for whom the worker was providing care, or after the death of a newborn or stillborn child, and allowing people to take medical leave during the first six weeks after giving birth without requiring additional medical certification. 

Good cause exception to deadlines (SB 5729)  


This bill will provide good cause exceptions for some public benefits recipients. When an applicant or recipient of public assistance or any medical service program is aggrieved by a decision by the Department of Social and Health Services or the Health Care Authority and fails to meet the 90-day deadline to request a proceeding, they are entitled to show that they had good cause for not meeting the deadline. Good cause to fail to meet a hearing deadline may include military deployment, medical reasons, housing instability, language barriers, or domestic violence. 

Transitional food assistance (SB 5785)   


This bill directs the Department of Social and Health Services to provide transitional food assistance for five months to a household that can no longer receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and isn’t in full-family sanction status. If a member of a household has been sanctioned but the household is still receiving benefits, then remaining eligible household members may receive transitional food assistance. This bill ensures low-income survivors and their families don’t have to go without food while they transition off of TANF.

Stipends for community members (SB 5793)  


Impacted community members, including survivors, spend their valuable free time providing input, telling their stories, and publicly engaging in statewide efforts to create policy and systemic changes. Their participation is essential to creating equitable policies in our state. They tell their stories, provide invaluable information to organizations, and spend many hours sharing their expertise. This bill allows agencies to provide a stipend and allowance for child and adult care reimbursement, lodging, and travel expenses to individuals who are low income or have lived experience to support their participation. Agencies must work to minimize the impact of stipends and reimbursements on public assistance eligibility.

Diaper subsidy for those receiving TANF (HB 1947 / SB 5838)


This bill provides all Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) households with children under the age of 3 a $125 per month cash grant increase to help pay for diapers. The grant increase will cause a decrease in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, restricted to food purchasing, but will be offset by the overall increase of TANF funds. All TANF families with children under three will experience a positive net increase of unrestricted cash of $40-$60 a month to help pay for diapers. More unrestricted cash in survivors’ pockets helps them meet their needs and stay safe and stable. 

Bills we oppose

Making coercive control a crime  (HB 1449) 

Failed to pass.

This bill seeks to establish the crime of coercive control as a gross misdemeanor. No one should have to endure coercive control in their relationship, but we are concerned that making coercive control a crime will have negative consequences for many survivors. Many laws designed with the best of intentions to support survivors can be the very same laws that an abusive and controlling person can use against them. 

Domestic violence registry  (HB 1678) 

Failed to pass.

This bill requires the Washington State Patrol to create and maintain a central registry of ‘serious domestic violence offenders’ who have been convicted of a felony and/or multiple misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence. WSCADV has concerns about the unintended consequences of this bill for survivor privacy. Due to the relationship between a victim and an offender in domestic violence cases, publicizing an abuser’s name would often lead to the identification of the victim as well. Concerns for their privacy can result in survivors deciding not to reach out for help.  

Reforming state tax system (SB 5769)

Failed to pass.

This bill cuts taxes, including getting rid of the Capital Gains Tax we fought for last session, without a promise or a plan to fund the things that would take a hit, like education and basic needs for Washingtonians. The Capital Gains Tax passed last year was the most equitable change to our tax code in the last 80 years. This bill would be a huge blow to survivors and their families across Washington by further limiting resources that help them make safe choices. 

Concerning Parenting Plans (SB 5920)  

Failed to pass.

This bill increases the legal standard that parents must meet to change parenting plans when custody restrictions were based upon a finding of drug, alcohol, or other substance abuse. Substance use is already a factor considered in parenting plan decisions. Many survivors use substances throughout the course of surviving abusive relationships or have struggled with substance use in the past. Our member programs consistently see these same survivors lose parenting time with their children when their substance use history are leveraged in court by their abusive partners. This would impose even greater barriers for survivors with substance use issues to parent their children.

Bills we are monitoring

Standard for use of force by peace officers (HB 1735)


This bill expands peace officer authority to use physical force and modifies the requirement to exercise reasonable care. It also provides that the standard for use of physical force does not limit or restrict a peace officer’s authority or responsibility to perform life saving or community caretaking functions. It also provides that the standard for use of physical force does not prevent a peace officer from responding to requests for assistance or service.

Victims of human trafficking eligibility (HB 1748) 


This bill makes victims of human trafficking eligible for the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program and the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) program, and the Pregnant Women Assistance Program. This bill builds upon previous legislation that allows victims of human trafficking, and qualifying family members, be eligible for various state-funded assistance programs.

Commercial sexual exploitation (HB 1989)

Failed to pass.

This bill requires the Department of Commerce to administer funding for healing and transition centers for commercially sexually exploited adults. These healing and trauma centers are required to enhance safety and prevent further exploitation rather than intervene, incorporate leadership from communities with unique risk factors for violence and exploitation in the commercial sex trade, meet core needs, provide long-term services, and offer skill training to increase options available, including an exit path. This bill also requires the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to provide shelter and services within its receiving center programs for commercially sexually exploited youth up to 30 days. Law enforcement, the Department of Children, Youth and Families, juvenile courts, community service providers, a parent or guardian, and a child themselves may refer a child to receiving center services. A substitute version of this bill seeks to add a definition of “commercial sexual exploitation of an adult”.

Physical use of force by peace officers (HB 2037


This bill authorizes law enforcement to use physical force to “the extent necessary” including immediate threat, to protect against a criminal offense with probable cause, to prevent a person from fleeing a temporary investigative detention (Terry stop), or to take a person into custody. Previous use of force bills explicitly called out approval of use of physical force when necessary to protect against a violent offense, a sex offense, or domestic violence when there is reasonable suspicion. This bill does not call out gender-based violence crimes in its definitions.

Previous Legislative Sessions

To view summaries of previous sessions of the Washington State Legislature, please see the “Public Policy” section of our Resource Library.

Wondering how laws are made in Washington State? Watch our short video, Ms. RCW.