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2023 Legislative Session Summary

The 2023 Washington State legislative session adjourned on April 24, marking the end of its first hybrid session. Our top priority was a joint $132 Million budget request with other crime victim services organizations in hopes that the State will make a commitment to invest in survivor services long-term.

The 2023-2025 state budget as passed by the Legislature allocates additional funding for domestic violence and crime victim services, including $8 million per year of additional ongoing funding for DV emergency shelter contracts, $41.3 million of one-time funding for crime victim services to stave off federal funding cuts, and $750,000 of one-time funding (in SFY24) for DV shelters. It also establishes a work group to examine state funding for gender-based violence services and how to establish long-term sustainable funding streams. Governor Inslee signed the budget on May 16, 2023.

Legislation WSCADV Supported

Victims of police violence seeking justice (HB 1025)

Failed to pass.

This bill would provide an option for victims of violence by law enforcement and state officers to access additional relief through the court system. We know that this form of state violence greatly impacts BIPOC and queer and trans communities. Moreover, when a domestic violence survivor’s abusive partner is a law enforcement officer, there are significant barriers to justice and this expansion of tools for accountability would support those survivors.

Expanding Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI) (HB 1045)

Failed to pass.

Following the proven success of guaranteed basic income (GBI) pilot programs in jurisdictions of Washington state, this bill would establish the 2-year Evergreen Basic Income Pilot Program to provide monthly, unrestricted cash payments to Washington residents whose income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level and who belong to one or more vulnerable population group(s) as defined in the eligibility criteria, including persons exiting a relationship or living situation due to domestic violence. This would give survivors the cash they need to secure housing, transportation, or other things necessary to stay safe and stable.

Expanding AMI for affordable housing units (HB 1046)

Passed, effective July 23, 2023.

This bill will ultimately help expand affordable housing options for survivors. It would increase the area median income (AMI) limit on public housing authority-financed, low-income housing developments to 80%, thus expanding access to affordable housing for residents whose incomes fall between 60-80% AMI.

Expanding the WTFC to anyone 18+ (HB 1075 / SB 5249)

Failed to pass.

The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) was passed and funded by the state legislature in 2021. Eligible households can receive up to $1,200 per year starting February 2023. This is a great way to help survivors and families put food on the table and pay for emergencies or whatever else they need. This bill would expand the WFTC to include all adults 18 years or older, extending the current age range of 25-65 years. We believe that all people, regardless of age, should benefit from the WFTC.

Courthouse dogs (HB 1077)

Passed, effective July 23, 2023.

This bill would increase access to therapy dogs that help children and vulnerable adults tell their stories of survival. With this bill, these dogs would be able to be with survivors to provide much-needed comfort when recounting their trauma.

Unemployment benefits for undocumented (HB 1095 / SB 5109)

Failed to pass.

This bill would expand access to unemployment benefits for undocumented residents who would otherwise qualify for unemployment benefits if they were citizens. At a time when employment status is still vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, this bill would prevent more immigrant survivors and residents from falling behind on rent or bill payments while they are seeking employment.

Excessive rent increases (HB 1124)

Failed to pass.

This bill would expand WA renter’s rights to protect tenants from excessive rent increases. Under this bill, landlords cannot increase the cost of rent beyond 5% without providing 160-220 days notice prior to the end of the rental agreement. Tenants who are given a notice of a rental increase would also be able to terminate their lease with specific notice given, and without penalty and limitation of fees. Expanding renter’s rights improves housing access for all, including survivors of DV, to be able to better gain and retain affordable housing.

MMIWP cold cases (HB 1177)

Passed, effective July 23, 2023.

In 2022, the Office of the Attorney General established the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIWP) Task Force to help address some of the outcomes of the systemic violence directed towards Indigenous people and communities. This task force would work to create an investigative unit dedicated to cold cases in the hopes of imparting some justice to families who are still wondering what happened to their loved ones. This bill also establishes direct lines of communication between investigators and the families through a dedicated advocate to ensure all communications are culturally responsive and trauma-informed.

Working Families Tax Credit eligibility (HB 1477)

Passed, effective January 1, 2024.

The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) was passed and funded by the state legislature in 2021. This bill would expand eligibility to individuals who file their taxes as “married filing separately.” Many survivors don’t have the feasibility and safe option of filing jointly with their abusers, and thus were prevented from accessing the tax credit. This bill would also permit individuals, including survivors, to apply for any WFTC tax credit payments for which they were eligible, but did not claim, for up to three years.

“Nothing About Us Without Us” Act (HB 1541)

Failed to pass.

This bill acknowledges that the people most impacted by the proposed policy should be in the room helping to create that legislation. Survivors of domestic violence have had to fight for their voices to be heard. This bill honors that fight and codifies a pathway for survivor voices to have a seat at the table.

Stalking offenses (HB 1696)

Passed, effective July 23, 2023.

This bill would help address the impact of emotional distress of stalking in Washington by expanding the scope of the definitions of stalking. It would also provide clearer legal recourse for people experiencing stalking, an important clarification which would make it more accessible for survivors to protect themselves under the law. Stalking has a profound impact on survivors, even long-term. By bolstering and clarifying stalking laws in our state, we can help prevent and stop further harassment and violence.

Name changes (SB 5028)

Passed, effective July 23, 2023.

This bill allows any person to petition for a name change in any court, not just in the court presiding over their area of residence. It also allows for people who are unable to pay the court fees for a name change to have those fees waived. All name changes under this bill are sealed and are unable to be accessed by the public, which is an important safety measure for survivors of domestic violence.

Reentry services and supports (SB 5134)

Passed, effective July 23, 2023.

This bill strengthens support for any person who has recently been released from jail or prison. This includes: an increase in the subsistence amount given to individuals to account for inflation, creating an individualized discharge plan, connecting to relevant behavioral health supports and governmental assistance, as well as preparing a supply of necessary prescriptions.

Emergency DV no contact orders (NCOs) (SB 5231)

Passed, effective July 23, 2023.

Firearms are by far the most common weapons used in domestic violence homicides. Washington has made important progress in recent years enacting laws and policies that attempt to keep guns out of the hands of abusive partners, but focus on implementation and enforcement is critical. This bill would require courts to make sure those safety measures have been satisfied and is an important step closer to closing the gap between policy and practice.

Child welfare housing assistance program (SB 5256)

Passed, effective June 30, 2023.

This bill would permanently expand the child welfare housing assistance program administered by DCYF. This program exists to reduce the need for foster care placement and reduce time spent in foster care placement by providing eligible families housing stability assistance. When stable housing is the barrier to reunification, housing assistance is provided under this program in the form of housing vouchers, rental assistance, housing navigation, and other supportive services.

Package of reproductive rights access bills:

HB 1155: My health, my data

HB 1340: Abortion provider licensing

HB 1469: Shield law

SB 5241: Keep Our Care Act (KOCA)

SB 5242: Cost sharing

SB 5768: Abortion medication access

All these bills, except SB 5241, passed out of the legislature and have been signed by the Governor. Effective dates vary.

Everyone should be free to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive well-being. Survivors of domestic violence need access to reproductive health services that respect their dignity and safety. This package of bills not only strengthens access to reproductive health care in WA, but it also strengthens protections for anyone seeking care or providing care in WA, no matter what state they reside in.

Legislation WSCADV Monitored

Domestic violence omnibus (HB 1715)

Passed, effective July 23, 2023.

This is a huge and complex piece of legislation that originally proposed enormous changes to the legal system response to domestic violence. In its original form, the bill contained many untested ideas and mandatory provisions that would strain under-resourced DV systems statewide, and would not provide the range of support and options that survivors in diverse communities tell us they need. While there are some provisions in the bill WSCADV supports, we still have a few unanswered questions to work through and will be working closely with partners and lawmakers on any further changes to the bill.

Update as of 4/23/23: The bill as passed out of the legislature contains many reforms to domestic violence response and WSCADV does not have any concerns with the final version of the bill.