The Senate has unanimously passed and sent to the governor a bill authored by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker that would create a task force on domestic violence and workplace resources to identify the role of the workplace in helping to curb domestic violence.
“The statistics are sad and alarming. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says about 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. This equates to about 10 million people per year. As many as one in four women and one in nine men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and/or partner stalking with injury,” said Mosbrucker.
“According to the New England Journal of Medicine, calls to domestic violence hotlines decreased last year during the pandemic — not because domestic violence itself decreased. Instead, cases increased because many people were forced to stay home next to their abuser, but calls decreased because victims were unable to safely connect to services,” she added.
Mosbrucker said in many circumstances, the only safe place victims can go without the perpetrator is to work.
“They’re usually allowed to go to work in order to help pay bills, rent or a house payment, but no place else, because the perpetrator doesn’t want anyone to discover the abuse,” added Mosbrucker.
Under House Bill 1315, the Department of Commerce would convene a task force on domestic violence and workplace resources, seeking input from the following:
- Association of Washington Business;
- National Federation of Independent Business;
- Washington Hospitality Association;
- Washington Retail Association;
- Washington State Labor Council;
- Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence;
- a business owner;
- a survivor of domestic violence;
- a member of a federally-recognized tribe; and
- up to two additional members.
“This is a way for us to reach out and be a hand for those who are suffering in silence and get them the help and protection they need,” said Mosbrucker.
For the past three years, the bill has passed the House with a unanimous vote. Mosbrucker originally introduced the legislation as House Bill 1056 in 2019. The measure passed the House in 2019, but didn’t survive in the Senate in the first year. In 2020, it passed both chambers of the Legislature, 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. Now in its second attempt to the governor’s desk, Mosbrucker is feeling confident.
“Every time the bill has come up for a vote, it’s had unanimous support. This year, the budget is more fiscally sound than last year when the governor performed those vetoes going into the pandemic,” said Mosbrucker. “We need to get this task force underway and provide the help and support these victims deserve.”
Mosbrucker is also awaiting Senate action this week on two other bills.
House Bill 1455, which she authored, would prohibit the Employment Security Department and Labor and Industries from requiring and using full Social Security numbers from citizens who need their services. This bill is in response to a massive personal data breach in the state Auditor’s Office affecting those who filed for unemployment benefits in 2020.
The language of a third measure introduced by Mosbrucker, House Bill 1357, was consolidated into a similar measure in the Senate, House Bill 1453. Mosbrucker’s provisions in that bill would require voters’ pamphlets to be provided upon request to registered Washington voters living and working overseas. House Bill 1453 is awaiting a Senate vote.
If the bills pass the Senate without being amended, they will be sent directly to the governor for his signature.