House gives unanimous approval to Mosbrucker’s missing and murdered Indigenous persons ‘Bring them home’ bill

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Lawmakers in the state House of Representatives gave unanimous approval early Sunday morning on bipartisan legislation that would provide further tools to help in cases involving missing and murdered Indigenous persons (MMIP). Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, authored House Bill 1571.

“This is the ‘Bring them home’ bill, the next step in our effort to collaborate, investigate, find, and bring home the many missing and murdered Indigenous persons in our state,” said Mosbrucker. “This bill would make sure tribes are allowed to pray over the body of a deceased person — a member of their tribe — before the body is moved without compromising the scene before an autopsy is conducted. This was one of the main requests from heartbroken families we spoke with during statewide meetings with tribal members in 2018.”

The bill also requires the Department of Commerce’s Office of Crime Victims Advocacy to establish two grant programs — one for Eastern Washington and one for Western Washington — that would help to provide services and resources for Indigenous survivors of human trafficking.

“This will ensure that once we find these trafficked Indigenous survivors, they have a place to go to get the help and counseling they need — a ‘Serenity House’ where they can get existing wraparound services to help them heal,” said Mosbrucker.

A third component of the bill would require jails that release a person in custody who is the subject of a missing person’s report to notify the agency of original jurisdiction that issued the report.

“We heard from tribes that we needed a way to check the jails to determine if missing tribal members were there or not. This bill sets up that protocol,” added Mosbrucker.

“These people who are missing and taken from their tribes are someone’s daughter, someone’s wife or grandchild, their aunt, or even their son. Can you imagine being alone, scared and not knowing whether Washington state is or is not using every single resource to find you and bring you home? That’s the importance of this bill and the legislation we have passed over the last five years,” noted Mosbrucker, the prime sponsor of MMIP legislation, House Bill 2951, in 2018, and House Bill 1713 in 2019.

“I’m so grateful for those who have walked from Canada to the Capitol, and those who have bicycled across the nation, often with a handprint over their mouths, to keep the spotlight on this issue. And also for Earth-Feather Sovereign, the Colville Confederated Tribe member who first brought this to my attention in 2017. They deserve the credit for these bills and for changing the culture so that we not only openly admit this is a serious issue, but that we do something meaningful about it,” said Mosbrucker.

“When this journey began, I made a promise to a beautiful Yakama Nation elder. She told me I have a great responsibility on my shoulders – that government says it will help, but seldom does. She asked me not to stop until we bring them home,” said Mosbrucker. “This is my attempt to do just that. Nothing worth fixing is ever easy. I will not give up until we can find and bring them home.”

The measure passed 98-0. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

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