Two bills introduced this session by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker have made it all the way to Gov. Jay Inslee who signed them into law last week.
An effort in which Mosbrucker began more than three years ago to create a task force to identify the role of the workplace in helping to curb domestic violence culminated Wednesday as the governor affixed his signature to the bill.
House Bill 1315 requires the Department of Commerce to convene a task force on domestic violence and workplace resources that would review the role of the workplace in the lives of individuals experiencing domestic violence, the appropriate role of employers and employees in helping to reduce the incidence of domestic violence, and whether legislation is needed to address these issues.
“We learned from domestic abuse survivors that often the only safe place they can go to be away from their abuser is at the workplace. Many survivors want to break away from the cycle of domestic violence, but they are too afraid and don’t know how to get away,” said Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale. “This bill puts together a group to help answer the question of how businesses and the workplace can help create a safe pathway of escape and support.”
The task force will be made up of members from business, hospitality and retail associations, labor, tribal members and a survivor of domestic violence.
“No one should feel unsafe in their own home. Yet a 2018 state health assessment by the Department of Health shows as many as one in eight Washington adults have been injured by an intimate partner,” said Mosbrucker. “This bill is a way we can reach out and be a hand for those suffering in silence.”
Mosbrucker originally introduced the legislation as House Bill 1056 in 2019. The measure passed the House in 2019, but failed to pass in the Senate in the first year. In 2020, it passed both chambers of the Legislature unanimously, but was one of 147 bills to be vetoed last year by Gov. Jay Inslee in an effort to save money as the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning to spread across Washington state. This year, it again passed both chambers unanimously as House Bill 1315.
A preliminary report of the task force is due to the appropriate committees of the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2021, with a final report due in December 2022.
On Friday, Inslee signed Mosbrucker’s House Bill 1455. The measure seeks to prohibit the Employment Security Department (ESD) and Labor and Industries (L&I) from requiring and using full Social Security numbers from citizens who need their services. It is in response to a massive personal data breach in the state Auditor’s Office affecting those who filed for unemployment benefits in 2020.
“Hundreds of thousands of Washington consumers, many of whom are our constituents, had personal information they’ve provided to state agencies, compromised,” said Mosbrucker. “This bill asks Employment Security and Labor and Industries to examine their practices of how they disclose individual Social Security numbers in agency correspondence with third party entities It also requires those agencies, whenever possible, to institute procedures to encrypt or remove the use of a full nine-digit Social Security number.”
Mosbrucker says she’s also working to insert several provisos in the final state operating budget that would pay for:
- Health profession loan repayment and a scholarship program to provide for more specialized pediatric and juvenile rheumatologists to help treat juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in Washington state. More than 6,000 children in Washington suffer from this debilitating affliction;
- Establishment of a youth suicide review team through the Department of Health (would continue the efforts of Mosbrucker’s House Bill 1354); and
- $1.9 million for expedited processing of sexual assault kits and other DNA backlogs.
“There are several ways to move policies forward on behalf of Washington citizens besides passing legislation. The budget proviso process is another way we can address issues for our citizens,” noted Mosbrucker.
The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to end April 25.