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Washington lawmakers propose new protections, funding for domestic violence victims


Washington crime and domestic violence victim advocates are facing a 20 to 30 percent cut in Federal funding.

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers have put forward a bill to permanently fill that funding gap and increase the rights of domestic violence survivors.

Senator Manka Dhingra is the chair of the senate law and justice committee and co-sponsor on the bill. She said the state has stepped in when Federal funds have fallen short in the past, but service providers need a consistent, reliable source of funding.

“We have had to do this year after year, so its time instead of just supplementing that, we have a system where the state is responsible for a lot of these services,” she said in a press conference Tuesday.

The bill would expand the victim’s right to know where their abuser was incarcerated, if they were released or if they escaped custody. It would also add their safety concerns into the factors a judge considers when they set bail.

Lawmakers are considering a second bill that would also create more resources.

Under a bill sponsored by Representative Lauren Davis, a program would be created to provide attorneys to low-income survivors of domestic violence. It would also require law enforcement officers to promptly search the home of an offender who has been ordered to give up their firearms, and require courts to deploy electronic monitoring for domestic violence cases across the state.

“House Bill 1715 challenges the premise that DV victims should be sent into hiding, fleeing for their lives, while our system does very little to hold their abusers accountable,” Davis said. “It rejects the status quo that hands victims a piece of paper with a promise of safety that the state cannot guarantee.”

Both bills are scheduled for an executive committee, and potential vote, in their first committee this week.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.