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    Dhingra criticizes Republican refusal to extend emergency domestic violence protections

Dhingra criticizes Republican refusal to extend emergency domestic violence protections

May 9th, 2020|

“These measures are not about convenience; they are about saving lives”

REDMOND — Senate Deputy Majority Leader Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) issued the following statement after Senate Republican leadership declined to sign off on the Governor’s request to extend emergency protections for survivors of domestic violence:

“I am shocked that my Republican colleagues in the Legislature are playing politics with the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

“The Governor’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order has stemmed the tide of one pandemic, but if stripped of accompanying protections, it has the potential to unleash another. Domestic violence cases have been rising across the state since the beginning of the pandemic and are up 20 percent in King County.

“In the last two weeks alone, prosecutors in King County report, there have been three domestic-violence homicides, an attempted domestic-violence murder, and two officer-involved shootings because of domestic violence. When survivors are stuck inside with their abusers, home is not healthy—or safe.

“That’s why the Governor’s Proclamation 20-45 is so crucial. It allows survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to file protection orders electronically and allows courts to legally notify respondents electronically.

“These measures are not about convenience; they are about saving lives.

“We do not want survivors caught between fear of venturing out to file an order and fear of another beating. We do not want protection orders that cannot be served because law enforcement does not have enough officers available to do the work.

“Judges, prosecutors, sheriffs, and police across Washington—including the Washington State Supreme Court, the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs—are telling us the same story: electronic service saves lives. In the short time since it has been implemented during this pandemic, Washington’s electronic service program has become a national model.

“Frankly, I cannot fathom how anyone could be so callous as to deliberately abandon domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking survivors during the greatest crisis of the last hundred years. Washington has some of the finest law enforcement professionals in the country. We ought to let them do their job: protecting the vulnerable. There is no excuse for playing politics with people’s lives.”

Related documents:

Letter from Legislative leaders on extension of proclamations

Joint letter of support from Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs

Letter of support from David Martin, Chair of Domestic Violence Unit, King County Prosecutor’s Office

Governor’s proclamation 20-45

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    Dhingra appointed to Senate bipartisan COVID-19 recovery committee

Dhingra appointed to Senate bipartisan COVID-19 recovery committee

May 6th, 2020|

Senate Deputy Majority Leader Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) was appointed to a newly formed bipartisan Special Committee on Economic Recovery in the Washington State Senate to address the state’s long-term economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The committee will hold its first meeting in June and is tasked with making recommendations on COVID-19 recovery legislation in advance of the 2021 legislative session, or before that if lawmakers are called back into a special session this year.

“The pandemic is not over by any means, but it is time to begin planning for a robust and sustained recovery for all Washingtonians,” Dhingra said. “Thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of many workers and businesses, our state is adapting at breakneck speed to the new conditions that the virus has brought, and it is imperative that we prepare legislation now to harness that innovation and adapt our systems for the long term.”

Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) will serve as the committee’s chair. Republican Sen. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville) will serve as vice chair. The seven-member committee will be comprised of four Democrats and three Republicans. Democratic senators on the committee include Sens. Christine Rolfes and Rebecca Saldana. In addition to Becker, Sen. Tim Sheldon and a yet-to-be-determined Republican will represent the Senate GOP.

“The purpose of this select committee is to look deeply at the ways in which the pandemic has structurally changed our state and regional economies, and to make recommendations on how we can come out stronger on the other side for workers and the businesses that employ them,” Frockt said. “The goal is to have this committee work together, without partisanship, in order to drive innovative, forward-looking ideas that can help the people in every corner of this state recover and prosper.”

The committee will hold work sessions in the coming months to hear from experts in a variety of fields, look at what other states are doing to recover from the outbreak and identify innovative ways to rejuvenate Washington’s economy and communities throughout the state.

The Senate’s Facilities and Operations Committee voted today to officially form the committee.

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    Dhingra bill will reform state’s Involuntary Treatment Act

Dhingra bill will reform state’s Involuntary Treatment Act

March 6th, 2020|

An overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House passed Senate Bill 5720 on a 95-2 vote Thursday, reforming Washington’s Involuntary Treatment Act to put medical care first when people with behavioral health problems pose a danger to themselves or others.

“The bill updates civil commitment procedures and removes barriers to people getting the help they need,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), the bill’s sponsor. “It prioritizes patient assessment and aftercare.”

The most important change that the bill makes is to extend the initial involuntary hold period to five days. Currently, someone who presents a danger to themselves or others may be involuntarily committed for behavioral health treatment for an initial 72-hour period before a court hearing must be held. However, detox and a comprehensive medical evaluation typically take between three and five days.

Since medical professionals need more than 72 hours for a thorough evaluation, many holds for civil commitment are currently granted extensions in court. The legal proceedings for those extension agreements incur significant costs for the state — money that could otherwise pay for treatment.

Including these extensions, the average number of days a person is detained in Washington state is currently eight. Many states, including Oregon, already have a five-day hold period. This change allows for a full medical evaluation before determining whether a hold needs to be extended.

This bill also undertakes a comprehensive cleanup of the adult and juvenile statutes to coordinate the two effectively. It clarifies terminology, including replacing “mental health” and “substance use disorder” with “behavioral health,” to ensure that people who are seeking crisis services are not put on one track or the other, but are treated holistically under the behavioral health model.

Finally, the bill ensures that people who do not meet the criteria for civil commitment may be discharged at any time by a hospital.

Having been amended by the House, the bill contains differences that must be reconciled by both chambers before it can be sent to the governor to be signed into law.

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    Dhingra bill to create first-in-nation firearm violence prevention office

Dhingra bill to create first-in-nation firearm violence prevention office

March 5th, 2020|

House passage of Senate Bill 6288 today will make Washington the first state in the nation with a dedicated office to collect statewide data on firearm violence, make the data available for public health research, and fund innovative prevention programs in local communities.

“This bill is about understanding where violence occurs in our communities and how we can address it.,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), the bill’s sponsor. “We don’t need to wait until shots have been fired — we need to intervene to prevent violence before it happens.”

SB 6288 would establish the Washington Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention, which would work with law enforcement agencies and others to collect and centralize data on firearm violence, including suicide.

In addition, the office would administer the Washington Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program, a competitive process to fund evidence-based initiatives undertaken by cities and community-based organizations in Washington.

The office will also publish a guide to best practices for therapy for firearm violence victims as well as establish and staff a statewide helpline, counseling and referral service for survivors of firearm violence, their families and friends, and professionals.

These mental health treatment measures in SB 6288 were developed by Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle) and proposed earlier this year in SB 6553, which did not pass the Senate.

“The effects of firearm violence on survivors’ mental health can be devastating and long-lasting. We as a state, as a community, need to be doing all that we can to help survivors deal with the trauma, and that’s what this legislation will do,” said Frockt.

The office’s approach is modeled on King County’s Shots Fired project. Every year, 155 King County residents die from gunshots and another 150 are hospitalized, according to a report from the project presented at a work session of the Senate Law & Justice Committee last fall. This violence can cause lifelong trauma for survivors. The Shots Fired project applies a public health approach to firearm violence, with an emphasis on early intervention and prevention. SB 6288 applies the approach statewide.

“In the Legislature, we have been taking meaningful steps to transform our criminal justice system from a crisis response model to an early intervention and prevention model,” Dhingra said. “This bill is an important addition to that work.”

Having passed the House by a vote of 53-44 with a technical amendment, SB 6288 now returns to the Senate for a vote of concurrence.

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    Senate passes Dhingra bill to establish first-in-the-nation firearm violence prevention office

Senate passes Dhingra bill to establish first-in-the-nation firearm violence prevention office

February 18th, 2020|

Today, the Senate passed legislation to collect statewide data on firearm violence and fund innovative prevention programs in local communities.

Senate Bill 6288 would establish the first-in-the-nation Washington Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention, which would work with law enforcement agencies and others to collect and centralize data on firearm violence, including suicide.

In addition, the office would administer the Washington Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program, a competitive process to fund evidence-based initiatives undertaken by cities and community-based organizations in Washington.

“This bill is about understanding where violence occurs in our communities and how we can intervene to address it—and making sure that we are helping victims of violence,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), the bill’s prime sponsor.

The office’s approach is modeled on King County’s Shots Fired project. Every year, 155 King County residents die from gunshots, and another 150 are hospitalized, according to a report from the project presented at a work session of the Senate Law & Justice Committee last fall. This violence also causes lifelong trauma for survivors. The Shots Fired project brings a public health approach to firearm violence, with an emphasis on early intervention and prevention. SB 6288 applies the approach statewide.

“In the Legislature, we have been taking meaningful steps to transform our criminal justice system from a crisis response model to an early intervention and prevention model,” Dhingra said. “This bill is an important addition to that work.”

Having passed the Senate on a vote of 25-23, SB 6288 now moves to the House of Representatives.

Senate passes Dhingra bill to help sexual assault survivors

February 5th, 2020|

OLYMPIA — A bill passed unanimously today by the Senate would improve the state’s medical and legal response in sexual assault cases.

Senate Bill 6158, sponsored by Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), creates a task force to develop model protocols for hospitals and clinics across the state that would ensure a coordinated community response for sexual assault survivors.

“Sexual assault does more than just physical harm,” said Dhingra. “Survivors of these crimes are often dealing with an array of emotional as well as physical traumas that make the aftermath of a sexual assault a particularly vulnerable time. We have to make sure that their experience when they seek help does not continue to inflict more trauma.”

This bill will ensure that Washington state provides a set of evidence-based best practices for hospitals and clinics where sexual assault survivors are treated. The task force will bring together a broad range of groups to provide input and will be composed of legislators, sexual assault survivors, medical providers, judges, representatives of law enforcement, and local government officials, among others.

This is a further step in the Senate Democrats’ extended, multi-year effort to improve Washington state’s medical and legal response to sexual assault. Last year, the Legislature passed laws that extended the statute of limitations for sexual assault (SB 5649) and required hospitals that do not provide rape kits to inform survivors immediately so they can seek a kit at another hospital (HB 1016/SB 5910).

Having passed the Senate by a vote of 49-0, the bill now moves to the House of Representatives.