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Washington State Legislative News


2019 was a year of great progress in bridging the justice gap for victims of sexual assault in Washington State. (Click here for details.)

There’s more progress to be made in 2020 – and beyond.

Legislators have a short, 60-day session that began January 13. KCSARC, in partnership with the Harborview Sexual Abuse and Trauma Center and the Washington State Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (WCSAP) will be calling on legislators to further bridge the justice gap for sexual assault survivors, and take steps that will help prevent sexual assault in future generations.

Specifically, we will be supporting proposals in 2020 that:

1. Further reduce the rape kit backlog

We must prioritize processing sexual assault kits so survivors are not left in limbo and to hold perpetrators accountable.

Though there has been some progress on this front, thousands of Sexual Assault Kits (SAKs) remain untested statewide.

To reduce this backlog as rapidly as possible, we’re urging lawmakers to add $3 million to previous allocations for increased outsourcing of SAKs testing in the 2019-21 biennium and additional positions to increase the processing capacity of the current DNA laboratories.

2. Implement recommendations from the Attorney General’s task force for state protocols and improved criminal justice response 

Recommendations include:

  • Establish a working group focused on best practice sexual assault protocols for coordinating victim advocacy response. This will require each county to establish their own regional protocol for connecting victims to medical facilities, support and advocacy services;  

  • Store unreported kits with law enforcement and retain unreported kits for 20 years;

  • Provide resources for cold case training and investigations; 

  • Provide additional financial resources to prosecutors; and

  • Support timely collection and testing of DNA from those who are convicted of eligible offenses, but who do not go into custody.

3. Create a statewide Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) infrastructure

Just as victims deserve to have their rape kits tested in a timely fashion, victims who have the courage to come forward deserve to receive appropriate care, no matter where they live in our state. State-level leadership and funding is urgently needed to make this a reality.

Washington needs more qualified SANEs and supported programming statewide to correct inequity of service, including adequate hospital infrastructure, transportation, wait time and information on where to get exams. The overall goal of SANE training is to train nurses across the state to be competent examiners so that wherever a patient presents for care in the state, they can receive the same high level of care. 

We will urge legislators in 2020 to create stable, ongoing, consistent funding for statewide SANE training, consultation and technical assistance.

4. Support Comprehensive Sexual Health Education

We know accurate information about sexual health and healthy relationships is a protective factor that can contribute to the reduction of sexual violence.  That's why we support making comprehensive sex education accessible to all Washington State students. Click here to see our blog on this topic.


HB 2318 (Orwall) Sexual Assault Kits and Case Review
Supports retention and processing of sexual assault kits, including unreported kits and requires the Criminal Justice Training Commission to develop a proposal for a sexual assault case review program.

SB 6158 (Dhingra) Sexual Assault Coordinated Community Response Task Force
Creates a multi-disciplinary task force to make recommendations and collaborate with the legislature, state agencies, hospitals, community programs, and local government to implement coordinated community responses for sexual assault victims including access to sexual assault nurse examiners, legal support, crime victims’ compensation and community advocacy.

SB 5395 (C. Wilson) / HB 2184 (Stonier) Comprehensive Sexual Health Education
Requires comprehensive sexual health education consistent with the Washington state health and physical education K-12 learning standards, and requires affirmative consent curriculum.

SB 6162 (Dhingra) Forensic Exams for Victims of Strangulation
Directs the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) to work with stakeholders, including community programs, nurses and others, to develop practices to crate access to forensic nurse examiners in strangulation-involved assaults.  Authorizes Crime Victims Compensation payment for these exams. 

Preparing for next sessions

In addition to adding our voice on these topics, we will be laying important groundwork in preparation for the 2021 session. That work includes seeking opportunities to develop a more informed, accountable and victim-centered response to juveniles who commit sexual offenses, and seeking enhanced funding for services to victims and their families.


We invite you to join with other advocates in calling for changes that remove barriers for survivors and support resources to help them heal.


Sign up for advocacy news, and we'll deliver updates and actions you can take to educate lawmakers right to your inbox. Click below to get started. 


Let your state representatives or senator know you prioritize public policies that remove barriers for survivors of sexual assault. 

Click here to find your Washington State legislator. 


For news about legislative progress and our work, visit KCSARC in the news