OCVA 2021 Legislative Wrap-up
The 2021 Washington state legislative session is in the books! Despite things looking different this year, with most sessions and hearings being held virtually, there are bills that passed that will have a positive impact on crime victims in Washington state. A few of these bills, which specifically impact OCVA, are summarized below.
This bill requires OCVA to convene a task force and create a report on domestic violence and workplace resources. The goal is to identify the role of the workplace in helping to support individuals experiencing domestic violence and reducing the incidence of domestic violence. Task force members will include various statewide business and labor coalitions, the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, the Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence, a federally recognized tribe, a business owner, and a survivor of domestic violence. Link to Washington State Legislature HB 1315
The Public Safety unit of OCVA intends to foster community engagement with law enforcement officers through the creation of a community engagement funding program. These projects will improve police-community relations by empowering communities to engage in crime prevention efforts through neighborhood organizing, law enforcement-community partnerships, youth mobilization, and business engagement. OCVA will implement a project evaluation to measure and examine the impact of the local initiatives on community engagement, neighborhood safety, and positive community-police relations. Link to Washington State Legislature SB 5353
Concerning victims of nonfatal strangulation.
This is a bill OCVA has worked on with stakeholders for three years, and makes Washington the first state in the nation to ensure survivors of nonfatal strangulation have access to forensic nurses. The Crime Victim Compensation program is now required to cover the costs of examinations in domestic violence nonfatal strangulation cases. Additionally, OCVA shall develop best practices that local communities may use on a voluntary basis to create more access to forensic nurse examiners in cases of nonfatal strangulation assaults, including, but not limited to, partnerships to serve multiple facilities, mobile nurse examiner teams, and multidisciplinary teams to serve victims in local communities. Partnering with stakeholders, OCVA shall develop strategies to make forensic nurse examiner training available to nurses in all regions of the state, taking into account unique challenges faced by medical facilities and nurses operating in rural areas. Link to Washington State Legislature SB 5183
A couple other bills that passed related to crime victims are below:
Supporting victims of sexual assault. This bill Improves investigations into sexual assaults and tracks the backlog of sexual assault evidence kits. It also requires law enforcement to provide status updates for kits and requires a review of officer’s interactions with survivors, which will help the state improve sexual assault training for officers. Link to Washington State Legislature HB 1109
Modernizing, harmonizing, and improving the efficacy and accessibility of laws concerning civil protection orders. Consolidates and harmonizes civil protection orders in Washington State and makes these orders accessible virtually. Link to Washington State Legislature HB 1320