The Washington State legislature convened the 2015 session on January 12, 2015. The following is a summary of domestic violence-related legislation during this session. For a presentation of this information, please see our 2015 Legislative Wrap Up Webinar.
The legislative session began with a projected budget deficit of about $2.4 billion for the 2015/2017 million, meaning that if all programs continued to be funded at current levels, the state budget would be $2.4 billion short in revenue. While there was a positive report in May that projects an addition $300 million in revenue in addition to a previously anticipated $2.9 billion in additional revenue during the next biennium, the increase is not enough to cover rising costs and obligations, anticipated at approximately $5.3 billion. The Washington State Supreme Court is requiring additional K-12 investments of at least $2.2 billion in the upcoming biennium to implement the Court’s 2012 McCleary decision which requires that the State adequately fund basic K-12 education. Also, Initiative I-1351, mandating small class sizes, requires roughly $1.4 billion in investments for the biennium.
Proposed Operating Budget (SB 5077/HB 1106)
The House and Senate have both passed their respective operating budgets for the 2015-2017 biennium, and they are pretty far apart in their approaches in addressing the state’s anticipated $2.4 billion dollar budget shortfall.
Our top priority is to make sure funding for domestic violence programs is preserved in this budget, that maximum revenues are generated to implement domestic violence prevention programs, and to prevent cuts for the next budget cycle. There continues to be discussion about tax preferences that need to be closed, and there are many policy bills that have been introduced which have a fiscal impact.
During the 1st and 2nd special sessions, the House and the Senate released new proposed operating budgets. The House’s proposed spending level came down by approximately $450 million in General Fund – State dollars, and the new revenue assumptions came down by $917 million (by no longer including raising certain B&O taxes and eliminating or modifying selected tax preferences). However, as of June 12, the House and Senate budgets are still roughly $668 million apart in terms of spending on programs and job investments. Both proposed budgets include level funding for domestic violence advocacy programs, as well as increased funding $688,000 during the 2015-2017 biennium for domestic violence prevention efforts.
In the House budget, there are increases to vital programs regularly accessed by domestic violence survivors, including:
- $2 million increase in Civil Legal Representation
- $9.5 million increase in child care funding
- $1 million increase in the Washington Youth and Families (homelessness) Fund
- $17 million increase to provide for more of a child support pass through, and
- $9.5 million increase in State Food Assistance to make up for a cut that passed during the recession
In the Senate Budget-some notable proposals include:
- $886,000 reduction in funding for judicial education
- $3.46 million reduction in funding for the Administrative Office of the Courts (15%)
- $1.7 million reduction in Additional Requirements for Emergent Needs (AREN) cash assistance
- $98,000 for the Washington State Institute for Public Policy for a review of effective domestic violence services and prevention efforts
WSCADV supports the funding levels in the House budget as more supportive of domestic violence victims.
Legislation supported by WSCADV that passed
Domestic violence victim services
SSB 5361/HB 1729: Concerning the Administration of Domestic Violence Victim Services by DSHS
Sponsored by Senator Jim Hargrove & Representative Eric Pettigrew
This bill updates RCW 70.123 to reflect changes in the past 35 years in the work, and to provide a framework and legislative intent for a statewide network of shelter and advocacy, to provide for culturally appropriate services, provide for a statewide information and referral resource, and to assist communities in increasing awareness and preventing domestic violence. The bill updates various relevant definitions impacting DSHS supported domestic violence services and prevention efforts, clarifies the role of DSHS in administering funding for domestic violence services funds, requires DSHS to develop a statewide plan for delivery of domestic violence services, creates a funding source for domestic violence prevention efforts, and strengthens confidentiality protections for domestic violence programs and the statewide Domestic Violence Fatality Review project.
To support prevention efforts, the bill increases the existing filing fee for dissolution of marriage by $24, and increases current fines imposed on any person convicted of domestic violence offense or of violating a domestic violence protection order by $15. The bill also require counties to annually report to the Department of Social and Health Services the amount retained in each county from the $6.00 kept locally from now what will be the $54.00 surcharge on each dissolution filed in the county, and how the funds have been spent, by December 15th of each year. This bill will take effect on July 24, 2015.
HB 1302: Clarifying the application of child abduction provisions statutes to residential provisions ordered by a court.
Sponsored by Representative Larry Haler
This bill clarifies that for a parent could be charged with Custodial Interference if that parent withholds the other parent from having access to a child in violation of the residential provisions in a domestic violence protection order.
HB 1302 takes effect on July 24, 2015.
SB 5070: Supervision of domestic violence felony offenders.
Sponsored by Senator Kirk Pearson
This bill expands the number of felony domestic violence offenders to be supervised by the Department of Corrections. Current law provides such supervision only for those with a current domestic violence felony conviction, and a prior “repetitive domestic violence” (including misdemeanors) offense that had been pled and proven. This bill expands supervision to all offenders who have been convicted of a domestic violence felony offense that are pled and proven after the effective date of the bill.
SB 5070 takes effect July 24, 2015.
SSB 5158: Requiring Call Location Information be provided to Law Enforcement Responding to an Emergency
Sponsored by Senator John McCoy
This bill provides wireless phone carriers must have policies in place regarding the disclosure of the most recent location information of cell phone and/or last call made when requested by law enforcement, in cases where law enforcement believes there is an emergency. The bill as amended requires that the law enforcement officer making the request be on duty during the course of his/her official duties at the time of the request. The bill prohibits law enforcement from distributing cell phone information back to the requester or any other party, except to first responders responding to the emergency situation, when it is believed that someone has a history of domestic violence, stalking, is under a court order restricting contact, or is participating in the address confidentiality program. The bill requires that, prior to requesting a person’s call information, a law enforcement agency must verify there is no relationship or conflict of interest between the law enforcement officer responding, investigating or making the request, and either the person requesting the call location information or the person for whom the call location information is being requested. This bill takes effect July 24, 2015.
HB 1424: Concerning Suicide Prevention
Sponsored by Representative Tina Orwall
This bill requires the department of health to adopt rules establishing minimum standards for training relating to suicide assessment, treatment, and management including content specific to veterans and the assessment of issues related to imminent harm via lethal means or self-injurious behaviors.
This bill takes effect July 24, 2015.
Legislation supported by WSCADV that failed
HB 1716: The Washington Family Unity Act
Sponsored by Representative Luis Moscoso
This bill would clarify various law enforcement agency obligations relating to non- citizens, including:
- clarifying that local law enforcement agencies cannot detain community members solely on the basis of an immigration detainer (or similar requests) from immigration agencies without a judicial,
- affirming Washington State’s current policy that local law enforcement not enter into agreements to use state and local resources to enforce federal immigration laws,
- clarifying that community members cannot be denied bail in criminal cases solely on the basis of an immigration detainer and
- creating a consistent statewide policy for non-citizen crime victims seeking certification from law enforcement agencies for the purposes of qualifying for immigration protections under the Violence Against Women
HB 1226/SB 5605: Discretionary Arrest for 16 and 17 year olds
Sponsored by Senator Jeanne Darneille and Representative Roger Goodman
This bill would raise the age to 18 for mandatory arrest requirements in domestic violence incidents. Police may arrest 16-17 year olds and the bill provides conditions for consideration of arrest.
HB 1272: Making the distribution of intimate images a crime
Sponsored by Representative Vincent Buys
This bill would create a new crime of disclosing intimate images and defines what is meant by “disclosing” such images, and defines “intimate image.”
Note: This bill failed during the regular session, but as of June 12, 2015, has passed the House during the second special session.
HB 2160: Regarding the distribution of intimate images.
Sponsored by Representative Sharon Wylie
This bill would create a civil liability for damages when someone intentionally and without consent, distributes intimate images of another.
Note: This bill failed during the regular session, but as of June 12, 2015, has passed the House during the second special session.
SB 5306/HB 1356: Sick and Safe Employment Leave
Sponsored by Senator Cyrus Habib and Representative Laurie Jinkins
These bills would provide paid leave to address illness, or to address domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Paid leave would be at least 40 hours annually for employers with between 4 and 49 full time employees; 56 or more hours annually for employers with 50 to 249 employees, and at least 72 hours annual leave for employers with more than 250 employees.
HB 1257: Concerning Tenant Screening Reports
Sponsored by Representative Brady Walkinshaw
This bill would define a comprehensive screening report regarding a prospective tenant. If a tenant obtained a comprehensive screening report within 30 days of a rental application date and provides it to a landlord, the landlord may not charge the prospective tenant a tenant screening fee. The prospective landlord is not prevented from getting an independent tenant screening report, but cannot charge the prospective tenant for the cost of the tenant screening report.
Legislation opposed by WSCADV that failed
SB 5831: Vacating prior protection order violation conviction records
Sponsored by Senator Jim Honeyford
This bill would bar the consideration of domestic violence convictions that have been vacated in future criminal proceedings, unless the conviction was for violating a protective order or for stalking.
HB 1110: Creating a Presumption of Shared Parental Responsibility in Parenting Plans
Sponsored by Representative Chris Reykdal
This bill would create a legal presumption in parenting plan cases that relatively equal time and contact with children is in the children’s best interest, unless the parents can agree otherwise, or factors limiting a parent’s residential time can be established. This legal presumption would most likely arise in situations where parenting plans are contested by the parents, and the parents cannot compromise.
Other legislation of interest
HB 1632: About Domestic Violence
Sponsored by Representative Roger Goodman
This bill would address various provisions in the legal response to domestic violence. First, in sentencing for domestic violence felony offenses, it provides for the counting of two points for each prior conviction of Assault of a Child, Criminal Mistreatment where those offenses involve domestic violence when calculating an offender score. The bill also makes a 3rd conviction for domestic violence assault, including both prior misdemeanor and felony assaults a felony. The bill also clarifies that fees for executing a writ of habeas corpus in the context of domestic violence and children can be waived for low income individuals.
HB 1917: Regarding sound or video recordings by LE Officers
Sponsored by Representative Chris Hansen
This bill would provide that video/sound recordings are not subject to disclosure except under court order, or to the subjects of the recordings. Bill was amended to state that persons receiving the video/sound recordings must sign under oath they won’t share for harassment purposes. The amendment removed language relating to giving notice to other people who are also in the recording with enough notice for that person to get a court order preventing release, and creates a legislative task force. Persons who disclose video without notice to others are subject to civil liability. This bill failed to pass during the regular session.
SB 5381: Regarding a Protocol for Return of Firearms in the Possession of Law Enforcement
Sponsored by Senator Andy Billig
- This bill establishes the Sheena Henderson Act, and requires law enforcement agencies to: Before returning a firearm, confirm that the individual to whom the firearm will be returned is the individual from whom the firearm was obtained or an authorized representative of that person and that he or she is eligible to possess a firearm; and
- Develop a notification protocol that allows a family or household member to use an incident or case number to request that law enforcement notifies her or him when the agency returns a firearm to the individual from whom it was obtained or to an authorized representative of that person.
This bill passed and takes effect July 24, 2015.
HB 1857/SB 5727: Extreme Risk Protection Orders
Sponsored by Representative Laurie Jinkins and Senator David Frockt
This bill would create a civil extreme risk protection order allowing a law enforcement officer or a family or household member of a person to petition for a court order to enjoin the person from having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm or dangerous weapon. The bill also establishes procedures for the petition process and standards for entry and enforcement of both emergency and final extreme risk protection orders, and provides criminal penalties for a violation of an order. The bill requires law enforcement agencies to develop procedures for accepting, storing, and returning surrendered firearms and dangerous weapons, and authorizes courts to issue a warrant to seize firearms and dangerous weapons from the subject of an extreme risk protection order who has failed to surrender a firearm or dangerous weapon subject to the order. It would require orders to be entered into the Judicial Information System, and notice of the entry or termination of an extreme risk protection order to be forwarded to the Department of Licensing and the local law enforcement agency for entry into a state-wide database. This bill failed to pass during the 2015 regular session.
SB 5898/HB 2135: Regarding Homeless Management Information Systems
Sponsored by Senator Mark Miloscia and Representative Sherry Appleton
This bill would clarify the required notice that must be given to homeless persons before entering their personal identifying information into HMIS. The bill would strengthen the intent section of the law relating to safeguarding privacy, and note that domestic violence victims often utilize homelessness services. The bill would add a duty that the Dept. of Commerce provide technical assistance on implementing confidentiality and privacy policies relating to HMIS. The bill also defines personally identifying information. The bill would specify that homeless individuals will be informed of where their information is going, who has access to it, that they have a right to have info removed from HMIS, that they will not receive lesser services if they refuse to share their info, and whom they can contact if they have concerns or problems. The Dept. of Commerce must work with the Homelessness and Domestic Violence coalitions to develop protocols. The bill clarifies that teens 13 and older can give consent to share this information. Local governments can develop alternative referral systems (rather than coordinated entry) for domestic violence survivors. In merging data from HMIS from other databases, all agencies have to develop policies to prevent personal identifying information from being disclosed. In providing that written notice to homeless individuals about confidentiality policies, the bill specified that it would be provided will when requested by the homeless person. The bill also required that homelessness service providers who have contact with unaccompanied homeless youth (ie ages 13-17) must contact the youth’s parents, law enforcement, or the Department of Social and Health Services. This bill did not pass during the 2015 regular session.