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Washington State Legislative News

Washington State lawmakers wrapped up their brief 2018 session. With the help of KCSARC supporters, important progress has been made toward securing justice for sexual assault survivors this year. As of March 9:

  • The legislature voted to pass HB 2700, which would help protect the privacy of our youngest survivors of sexual assault, and keep them from further trauma. This bill is before Gov. Inslee awaiting signature.

  • HB 1155, simplifying and eliminating the Statute of Limitations for serious sexual assault crimes, was amended in Senate Committee, but failed to reach a vote in the Senate before deadline. While we’re disappointed, KCSARC’s work will continue on this issue, and we are better positioned to make progress on this important protection for all survivors next session.

  • HB 2353, a bill to fund Rape Kit Testing, was not taken up by House Appropriations after passing the full House on a policy vote. However, thanks to your calls, legislators voted to approve $3.25 million as part of the 2018-19 budget to help clear the backlog of rape kits awaiting testing at state labs, and to test kits going forward. 

See below for details about these proposals.

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This year, KCSARC called on the legislature to enact three commonsense reforms to support survivors of sexual assault and rape: 

1. Statute of Limitations Reform – House Bill 1155

Washington State has a particularly complex and confusing statute of limitations for sexual assault crimes. KCSARC is working with lawmakers on a bill to simplify the statutes of limitations.  

Proposed reform in HB1155 would eliminate the statute of limitations for the more serious crimes of rape, including rape of a child. This change would allow prosecutors to focus on cases that continue to be strong over time. Examples of these cases include those involving known serial rapists or particularly vulnerable victims.  

Simplifying the statute of limitations would give survivors the opportunity to be heard, challenging the justice system to evaluate the most serious cases on their merits, not on the date the offense occurred.

Read more about HB1155

2. Testing of All Rape Kits – House Bill 2353

If survivors come forward to report a sexual assault and undergo a forensic rape exam (rape kit) as part of the investigation, KCSARC believes these kits should be tested in a timely manner. 

KCSARC supports testing of Washington State's backlog of more than 6,000 rape kits, and calls for resources so that new rape kits are tested going forward. Reform efforts should be made to ensure survivors are treated with respect and kept informed at every point in the process.     

Read more about HB2353.

3. Child Forensic Interviews and Recordings – House Bill 2700 and Senate Bill 6387

Last year, KCSARC helped 2,000 child survivors of sexual abuse. We believe strongly that the legal system should do all in its power to protect vulnerable children from further trauma throughout the legal process. That includes protecting a child’s privacy after the case is adjudicated.

House Bill 2700 and its Senate companion, Senate Bill 6387, would ensure forensic interviews with children are handled in a sensitive and informed manner, and that recordings of interviews will be exempt from dissemination under the public records act. 

Read more about HB2700 and SB6387.

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