More than a half-dozen such bills – six in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives – passed their respective chambers on Wednesday
The Center Square Washington
A theme emerged from several pieces of legislation that recently advanced in the Washington State Legislature: protecting young people and helping crime victims.
More than a half-dozen such bills – six in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives – passed their respective chambers on Wednesday, day 52 of the 105-day legislative session.
Each bill now moves on to the other chamber for consideration.
Youth health services
Under Senate Bill 5599, parents would not be required to be informed of the whereabouts of their runaway children if there is a “compelling reason” to keep them in the dark, including the possibility of abuse, or if a minor is seeking “protected health services” such as reproductive care or gender affirming treatment.
SB 5599 passed the Senate on a 27-19 vote.
“This bill is an important step in ensuring young people across the state have a roof over their heads during an already challenging period in their life,” bill sponsor Rep. Marko Liias, D-Everett, said in a news release. “While we hope that every child has a supportive family that will provide them with acceptance and the care they need, it’s crucial that we provide housing options to those in crisis.”
Opponents called the bill a threat to parents’ rights.
“The sponsors of Senate Bill 5599 have said on the record that they want safe spaces where children have the freedom to express their true selves and that Washington must clear a path to ensure success for every child,” Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, said in a news release. “I agree. Like so many other health-related situations, gender dysphoria presents unique needs that deserve attention. But this should not mean removing parents from the decision-making process.”
Students’ personal information
Senate Bill 5127 would clarify school districts’ ability to redact students’ personal information, including when fulfilling a public records request.
The bill passed the Senate on a 27-19 vote.
“This bill is strictly about student safety,” bill sponsor Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Auburn, said in a news release. “We must protect their personal information, especially when disclosing that information could jeopardize their physical health, mental health or safety.”
Young driver safety
Senate Bill 5583 would require anyone 25 or younger to complete a traffic safety education course before receiving a driver’s license.
The bill passed on a bipartisan 41-7 vote.
“Driver’s education courses have proven effective at shaping safer habits for young drivers,” Liias, the prime sponsor of the bill, said in a news release. “As we’re working to make our roads safer for everyone, this is one more step to reaching that goal and making sure everyone is equipped with the tools to help them make safe decisions behind the wheel.”
A colleague on the other side of the aisle agreed.
“We need to do a better job of getting our young people prepared to become drivers,” said Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, ranking Republican on the Senate Transportation Committee. “I truly believe that this bill will save lives and will prevent heartache for hundreds of families around this state.”
Instruction on sex trafficking prevention
Senate Bill 5355, passed on a 48-0 vote, would require that in the 2025-26 school year, all “school districts must provide instruction on sex trafficking prevention and identification at least once between grades seven and 12.”
SB 5355 is sponsored by Wilson but was written by Eastside Preparatory School senior Ria Bahadur.
Supporting ex trafficking survivors
Senate Bill 5114 would support victims of sex trafficking by providing safety planning, housing and relocation, treatment for substance abuse, and other trauma-related services.
The bill passed 48-0.
“Every year that someone is trafficked, their options are narrowed,” bill sponsor Wilson said in a news release. “We see that not only through trauma, but through poverty, stigma, criminal history and lack of other basic supports. This often keeps vulnerable adults in dangerous situations. It is on us to ensure our survivors have continual support. We must invest in their healing and transitions.”
Female genital mutilation
Senate Bill 5453 would outlaw female genital mutilation, or FGM, the cutting or removal of female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
The bill passed 48-0.
“Female genital mutilation is an extreme form of gender-based violence that is unfortunately still practiced in our state,” said bill sponsor Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, in a news release. “Forty other U.S. states have already banned FGM, and we have to make sure Washington doesn’t become a haven for this practice.”
Do-it-yourself rape kits
House Bill 1564 would prohibit the sale of over-the-counter sexual assault kits on the grounds they use misleading marketing and are essentially useless.
The bill passed 96-0.
“It’s heartbreaking because it provides false hope to victims who think they can use these kits in private to collect evidence, when in fact there is no evidentiary value and these kits are not admissible in a Washington court of law,” bill sponsor Gina Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, said in a news release. “The sexual assault survivor might take a shower after using the kit, thinking they have secured evidence for prosecution, but in reality, that evidence is now washed away. Meanwhile, the company collects its profits and the rapist walks free.”
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