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2019 Legislative Session Summary

The Washington State legislature convened for the 2019 session on January 14, 2019. The following is a summary of domestic violence-related legislation during this session, sorted by the position WSCADV took on these bills (support, monitor/neutral, oppose). For a presentation of this information, please see our 2019 Legislative Wrap Up Webinar

Bills listed in  bold italic failed to advance past a cutoff deadline or received an unfavorable vote, and did not become law in 2019. Because 2020 is the second session of the 2019-2020 biennium, bills that did not pass in 2019 will be automatically reintroduced in the 2020 session. 

“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. 

Legislation WSCADV  supported

  • Assistance for immigrant victims of trafficking or abuse (SB 5164 / HB 1971) *WSCADV Priority Legislation – This bill expands access to critical services and support benefits for immigrants harmed by human trafficking & other serious crimes. Immigrant victims of trafficking and abuse are frequently trapped in dangerous situations and vulnerable to further exploitation because they struggle to meet basic needs. Increasing access to state food, medical, and economic supports while these survivors apply for federal assistance can improve lives, promote community safety, and reduce further victimization. 
  • Working Families Tax Credit (HB 1527 / SB 5810, SB 5961) *WSCADV Priority Legislation – This bill expands eligibility, and provides funding for, the Working Families Tax Credit, a Washington State analog of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. One of the main reasons people stay with or return to an abusive partner is that they don’t have the money to support themselves or their children. Decreasing poverty for low-income Washingtonians would increase survivor safety and help reduce the conditions that enable violence. 
  • Rental tenant protections & eviction reform (HB 1453 , SB 5600) *WSCADV Priority Legislation; SB 5600 Passed legislature 4/12/2019 – This bill makes a number of changes to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, including: allowing tenants more time to pay rent due before eviction proceedings; and authorizing the use of judicial discretion in these proceedings. 
  • Eviction reform: eliminating ‘no cause’ termination (HB 1656 / SB 5733) *WSCADV Priority Legislation – This bill makes a number of changes to state housing law increasing protections for renters, notably eliminating the ability for landlords to evict tenants through ‘no cause’ terminations. 
  • New Hope Act (HB 1041) Passed legislature 4/3/2019 – This bill modifies criteria related to certificates of discharge and eligibility to apply to have past criminal convictions vacated under certain circumstances. This criminal justice reform legislation would improve re-entry, removing barriers to employment and housing by allowing more Washingtonians who have completed their sentences to apply to have their records cleared under certain circumstances.  
  • Sexual Assault Protection Order access (HB 1149) Passed legislature 4/16/2019 – This bill changes the Sexual Assault Protection Order (SAPO) statute to clarify that survivors petitioning for an order do NOT need to specifically allege reasonable fear of future dangerous acts in order to be eligible for a SAPO. This legislation is a response to the Washington Supreme Court case Roake v. Delman, which interpreted SAPO law to add a ‘future danger’ requirement. 
  • Emergency assistance for those in the sex trade (HB 1382) Passed legislature 4/12/2019 – This bill provides immunity from prosecution for the crime of Prostitution, if the evidence for the charge was obtained as a result of a person seeking emergency assistance in certain circumstances. This bill is substantially similar to HB 2361 (2018). 
  • Standardizing sexual health education (HB 1407 / SB 5395) – This bill increases statewide uniformity in the teaching of age-appropriate comprehensive sexual health education for public school students, including information about healthy relationships and consent. Current law allows school districts to opt-in to teaching comprehensive health education, and requires them to meet certain standards if they do. This bill would require that all districts teach such health education, preserving the right of individual parents to opt-out their children. 
  • Eliminating status offense detention for youth (SB 5290) Passed legislature 4/9/2019 – This bill makes several reforms to the treatment of youth who commit non-criminal infractions known as ‘status offenses’ (including truancy), including eliminating the use of detention for youth who commit status offenses. 
  • Confidentiality for children’s records (HB 1505) Passed legislature 4/16/2019 – This bill exempts certain identifying information and contact information of child victims of sexual assault from public disclosure under the Public Records Act, and restricts disclosure of the same information under the Criminal Records Privacy Act.  
  • Improving criminal & civil responses to domestic violence (HB 1517) Passed legislature 4/12/2019 – This bill makes a number of reforms to WA’s criminal and civil justice responses to domestic violence (DV), drawn in large part from recommendations of the work group created by HB 1163 (2017) including: ordering evaluation of new regulations (WACs) on DV perpetrator treatment; directs Washington State University to develop a DV risk assessment tool; expands the availability of sentencing alternatives and deferred prosecution in DV cases; and, reconvenes the DV work group created by HB 1163 to evaluate current mandatory arrest law and possible alternatives. 
  • Workfirst / TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) reforms (HB 1603) Passed legislature 4/15/2019 – This bill makes a number of changes to Washington’s TANF program designed to make benefits available to more families in poverty, notably repealing some sanction and time limit policies that were put in place in 2008. Benefit programs such as TANF can be essential supports for survivors fleeing abuse who have little-to-no financial resources of their own. These reforms would allow more low-income survivors and others to access benefits and provide additional stability, something that has been shown to increase safety.  
  • Legal services for address confidentiality property acquisition (HB 1643) Passed legislature 4/10/2019 – This bill requires the Secretary of State, which runs the state Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), to contract with a legal services provider to assist ACP participants including survivors of domestic violence with real property acquisitions in a manner that does not disclose their address as public record. Privacy and confidentiality are critical issues for survivors of domestic violence, when privacy is compromised safety is also compromised, and this can lead to re-victimization. Currently, the ACP program is unable to protect the addresses of survivors who acquire real estate, such as new homes.  
  • Responsible Teen Communications Act (HB 1742) Passed legislature 4/10/2019 – This bill adopts an updated and prevention-oriented approach to teen ‘sexting’ (taking or exchanging nude or sexual images), including removing felony liability for youth who engage in some such conduct. Under current law, teens can be charged for felony child pornography crimes for merely taking such photos of themselves, or receiving them from others, such as dating partners. This bill adopts a less punitive approach and generates prevention best practice recommendations.  
  • Keep Washington Working Act (SB 5497) Passed legislature 4/12/2019 – This bill makes a number of changes to state law to limit the collection of information regarding immigration status by state and local agencies, and prohibits local and state law enforcement participation in federal immigration enforcement activities. Unfortunately, we know that many survivors of abuse and other vulnerable community members are dissuaded from seeking help and services because of fear of immigration-related consequences for themselves or family. The resources of state and local law enforcement and other agencies are best utilized, and communities are best served, when immigration enforcement remains with those federal entities officially tasked with enforcing federal law, something that this bill ensures statewide.  
  • Temporary removal of firearms during domestic violence law enforcement response (HB 1225) Passed legislature 4/11/2019 – This bill expands law enforcement authority to temporarily remove firearms in domestic violence cases. The bill, as introduced: requires that guns used to harm or threaten survivors in domestic violence incidents be removed by law enforcement when responding to a domestic violence incident, when there is probable cause to believe a crime has occurred; and allows officer discretion to remove other firearms accessible to the abusive party. HB 1225 is similar, but not identical, to SB 5143. 
  • Vehicle license information privacy (HB 2067) Passed legislature 4/15/2019 – This bill prohibits the Department of Licensing and other entities from disclosing vehicle license information, including identifying information such as vehicle license numbers and registration addresses, of persons participating in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) including survivors of domestic violence. 
  • Reproductive Health Access for All Act (RHAA) (SB 5602) Passed legislature, as amended, 4/16/2019 – This bill expands access to reproductive and other healthcare in WA law, specifically addressing the needs of immigrant and transgender communities. This bill was amended before passage by the House to remove sections establishing care for immigrant populations in law. 
  • Confidentiality in healthcare insurance (SB 5889) Passed legislature 4/4/2019 – This bill requires insurance companies to keep information about certain health care services obtained by covered adults and minors confidential and not disclose such information to the primary enrolee. Essentially, this bill extends the confidentiality that an enrolee has to the other plan beneficiaries. 

Legislation WSCADV monitored (but did not support/oppose)  

  • Clarifying the definition of consent in criminal rape law (HB 1002) SB 5689, incorporating statutory changes largely identical to HB 1002, passed legislature 4/10/2019 – This bill changes the definition of the crime of ‘Rape in the Third Degree’ by removing the requirement in current law that a victim ‘clearly express lack of consent through words or actions.’
  •  Workplace domestic violence task force (HB 1056) – This bill creates a Joint Legislative Task Force on domestic violence and workplace resources to identify the role of the workplace in helping to curb domestic violence. 
  • High-capacity firearm magazines (HB 1068 / SB 5062) – This bill legally limits the maximum capacity firearm magazines. As introduced, the bill limited the magazine to 10 rounds, later amendments increased the maximum legal magazine size to 15 rounds of ammunition. 
  • Statute of limitations for child sex offenses (HB 1231, SB 5649) SB 5649 Passed legislature 4/10/2019 – This bill extends and/or eliminates the ‘statute of limitations’ for certain serious sex offense crimes, extending the time that criminal charges can be brought after the alleged crime has occurred. Both bills would entirely eliminate the statute of limitations for a number of sex offenses where the victim was a minor child, and extend by varying amounts the statute of limitations for other sex offense crimes involving minor and adult victims. SB 5649 additionally makes changes to the crime of ‘Rape in the Third Degree’ similar to those proposed by HB 1002 (2019)
  • Maternal mortality review (HB 1369 / SB 5425) -This bill extends and expands state maternal mortality review panels, which investigate cases where women die during childbirth. 
  • Trueblood settlement legislation (SB 5444) Passed legislature 4/24/2019 – This bill makes a number of changes to Washington’s response to persons suffering from behavioral health disorders who are in contact with the criminal justice system, in response to the settlement agreement entered into by the State of Washington pursuant to the Trueblood v. DSHS lawsuit. A summary of the bill is available here
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and domestic violence (HB 1532, SB 5573) Passed legislature 4/9, 4/10/2019 – This bill makes several changes to Washington law designed to improve the awareness to the connections between trauma brain injury (TBI) and domestic violence. 
  • Domestic violence workplace awareness poster (HB 1533) Passed legislature 4/15/2019 – This bill requires the Employment Security Department to create a poster regarding domestic violence and requires employers to post the poster in a place with other required employment posters.
  • Child welfare workers (HB 1631) – This bill makes a number of changes to supplement the training, support, and workforce development requirements for child welfare workers employed by the Department of Children Youth and Families (DCYF), including explicitly clarifying that child welfare workers must support victims of domestic violence while those victims continue to care for their children, when possible. 
  • Eliminating sub-minimum wages for disabled persons (HB 1706) Passed legislature 4/23/2019 – This bill eliminates special certificates available under current law that allow an employer to pay below the minimum wage to workers with disabilities. 
  • Adult entertainer safety (HB 1756) Passed legislature 4/10/2019 – This bill makes several changes to laws governing the labor relations of dancers working at adult entertainment venues, including: creating new training requirements, requiring the availability of ‘panic buttons,’ and requiring employers to keep lists of customers accused of harassing or assaulting employees. 
  • Protection order firearms restrictions & practices (HB 1786) Passed legislature 4/13/2019 – This bill extends certain elements of current Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law and practice regarding firearm seizure and restrictions to other civil protection order processes.
  • Isolated worker sexual assault & harassment (5258) Passed legislature 4/10/2019-This bill requires employers that employ custodians, security guards, hotel or motel housekeepers, or certain room service employees to adopt a sexual harassment policy, provide mandatory sexual harassment training, provide a list of resources to employees, and provide a panic button to each isolated worker. 
  • Extreme Risk Protection Order hate crime expansion (SB 5745) – This bill allows victims of certain hate crimes to petition the court for an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO). ERPOs are a kind of civil court order that restrict the respondent (person subject to the order) from possessing firearms. 
  • Post-conviction release review (SB 5819) – This bill establishes a new process by which persons incarcerated for 15 years or more, who meet certain criteria, would be eligible to petition for early release or community custody from the Department of Corrections. 
  • Women’s prison division (SB 5876) – This bill creates a ‘women’s division’ within the Department of Corrections and outlines “gender-responsive” and “trauma-informed” practices related to the incarceration of women in Washington. 

 Legislation WSCADV  opposed

  • Domestic violence registry (HB 1080 / SB 5244) – 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.