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Current gun safety bills up for debate in Olympia

February 26th, 2018|

KEPRtv / Feb. 22, 2018
By Elise Haas

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – The latest mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people died, has revived Washington lawmakers who are pushing for enhanced background checks and restrictions on firearms.

We’ve watched students around the country and in the Tri-Cities speak out on gun violence and school safety.

Now there are several bills in the House and Senate that aim at keeping automatic rifles and high-powered weapons out of the hands of people who are more likely to do harm.

Action News heard from our Washington legislators to find out where these bills stand.

“I think we should all say this on a bi-partisan basis, thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a news conference Wednesday. “Our students and our families deserve action.”

Governor Inslee said the voices of victims and survivors of mass shootings need to be listened to in Olympia.

“There are a handful of modest, common sense bills that if passed can take reasonable measures to reduce the threat of gun violence,” he said.

Inslee voiced that he’s in support of several bills, including:

  • SB 6298 would make it harder for people involved in domestic violence to get access to weapons,
  • SB 5992 would ban bumps stocks, and;
  • SB 5444 would enhance background checks for assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

“I hope these bills get to my desk for signature,” he said.

As a sponsor and co-sponsor of a couple of these bills, Sen. Manka Dhingra said they target people engaging in violence.

“When you look at mass shootings, and one of these things that these guys have in common is that they are perpetrators of domestic violence,” Sen. Dhingra said.

The bill banning bump stocks passed in the senate, and just passed in Rep. Laurie Jinkins’ house committee.

“There is no single law that is going to end gun violence and I would never argue that,” Rep. Jinkins said. “But there are many things we can do that will help.”

Above all, Inslee said children and parents should not have to worry about gun violence in their schools, churches and shopping malls.

“I know this is an emotional issue and where good people have widely disparate beliefs, but I think it is very important to realize that these bills are not regulating guns that are out there for hunting and self-protection,” he said.

“We are talking about regulating weapons that are out there for quick and effective mass slaughter and we’re talking about simply closing loop-holes that have no sense whatsoever.”

Gov. Inslee said it’s now the legislators turn to make a difference.

“I urge legislators to listen to the voices of our students and Washingtonians who want common sense gun safety, for our kids and for all of us,” Inslee said.

A couple proposals drew bipartisan support, including SB 5992 to put a ban on bump stocks and SB 6298, prohibiting possession of firearms from people who’ve committed domestic violence against family members.

These bills have passed in the senate and are making strides through the house.

House lawmakers approved SB 5992 in committee, and the bill is awaiting a floor vote.

SB 6298 passed through the Senate and is scheduled Friday for a House committee vote.

However, the bill concerning enhanced background checks for assault weapons has only been introduced in the senate.

The latest version of SB 5444 would treat purchases of assault-style rifles similar to how Washington now regulates pistols.

The minimum purchase age would be raised to 21, and a gun-buyer would go through both a federal and state background check.

Lawmakers don’t have much time to see these proposals through, the legislative session is scheduled to end March 8.

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    New unit will work to remove guns from potentially dangerous people in King County

New unit will work to remove guns from potentially dangerous people in King County

February 26th, 2018|

KOMO News / Feb. 22, 2018
By Matt Markovich

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SEATTLE – It’s been two years in the making, but now Ellie’s Place on the fourth floor of the King County Courthouse is officially open for business.

Named after the official courthouse dog that passed away in 2015, Ellie’s place will house three programs including one that is very timely, the Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Unit.

The unit will consist of 12 people, including officers from the Seattle Police Department, deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office, victim advocates and deputy prosecutors that are trained in weapons retrieval.

SEATTLE – It’s been two years in the making, but now Ellie’s Place on the fourth floor of the King County Courthouse is officially open for business.

Named after the official courthouse dog that passed away in 2015, Ellie’s place will house three programs including one that is very timely, the Regional Domestic Violence Firearms Unit.

The unit will consist of 12 people, including officers from the Seattle Police Department, deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office, victim advocates and deputy prosecutors that are trained in weapons retrieval.

In 2016, voters passed a statewide initiative allowing anyone who has evidence that a person who owns guns may pose a threat to others, could have those weapons taken away temporarily by a court order.

It’s known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order or ERPO for short.

“If an individual’s made threats, if an individual has been volatile, destroyed property, if he’s harmed animals, if he has a history of assaultive behavior, it’s evidence a judge can use for an ERPO,” said Anne Levinson, a retired Seattle Municipal Court Judge was instrumental in getting Ellie’s Place up and running.

Ellie’s Place will also house the Children’s Justice Center, where children and their families who’ve been victims of violence can come into a family-friendly setting for forensic interviews and legal assistance in getting an ERPO.

“There’s not another one like it in the entire country and we’ve already seen they are increasing the number of guns recovered from the most dangerous hands,” said Renee Hopkins, CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the group that backed the ERPO initiative.

But, it took a $1 million appropriation, shared between King County and the City of Seattle, and hundreds of volunteer hours to get Ellie’s Place operational.

Ellie’s Place will also benefit smaller cities like Bothell in King County, that couldn’t afford the resources of the firearms retrieval unit.

Not all counties and cities in the state are wealthy enough to do the same.

“These are great ideas, but they are unfunded mandates and they are being placed on departments with more unfunded mandates, it’s just making it very problematic,” said Bothell Police Chief Carol Cummings.

Democratic State Senator Manka Dhingra of Redmond is sponsoring a bill to get guns out of the hands of people convicted of domestic harassment, and realizes the funding hole gun retrieval laws represent.

“If we are asking more of our officers, we have to make sure they get the funding they need to get the work done,” said Dhingra.

No state monies are being set aside for ERPO’s and their enforcement.

It’s up to each individual law enforcement agency to figure out how it’s going to comply with these court orders, which can be very risky to execute.

Education Funding on the Eastside

February 13th, 2018|

Sen. Manka Dhingra is joined by Sen. Lisa Wellman and Sen. Patty Kuderer to discuss the importance of education funding for Eastside school district including: Bellevue, Issaquah, Lake Washington, Mercer Island, North Shore, Renton, Riverview, and Snoqualmie Valley.

 

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    Senate passes Dhingra bill to provide property tax relief for seniors, veterans

Senate passes Dhingra bill to provide property tax relief for seniors, veterans

February 12th, 2018|


OLYMPIA – The Senate today unanimously passed legislation introduced by Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, to provide property tax relief to those who can least afford an increase—senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and veterans who reside in areas with a high cost of living.

“Affordability is a huge problem in the 45th Legislative District and surrounding communities,” Dhingra said. “Seniors and people on fixed income, many of whom have called the 45th home for decades, are being priced out of their homes.” 

Under current law, the senior property tax exemption is calculated based on statewide income thresholds, which do not account for the disparate cost of living in different counties. Senate Bill 6251 will change eligibility to be based on each county’s median household income.

“Current exemptions do not account for regional difference,” Dhingra said. “This bill fixes that.” 

Senate Bill 6251 passed with a vote of 47-0.

 

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    Senate passes Dhingra bill to protect children from young mistakes

Senate passes Dhingra bill to protect children from young mistakes

February 10th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, to bring state law into the 21st century and help protect our children.

Washington law currently makes no distinction between minors who make, send or possess sexually explicit images of themselves and minors who maliciously send images of others. The result is that penalties are severe. Under current law, any minor sending an image of themselves to another person his or her own age could face felony charges, up to five years in prison, and mandatory sex offender registration.

As every parent knows, kids sometimes make mistakes,” Dhingra said. “We hope the mistakes they make become opportunities for learning and growth. Children today face a new set of challenges as evolving technologies have opened the door to mistakes that can haunt them for the rest of their lives.”

Senate Bill 6566 does not alter existing safeguards like harassment protections or a prosecutor’s ability to make a special allegation of sexual motivation. Additionally, it directs the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs to establish a workgroup to study the harms caused by the exchange of intimate images by minors and report its findings to the Legislature.

Teenagers should not be labeled sex offenders and felons for sending intimate pictures of themselves to someone they know,” Dhingra said. “This bill ensures that kids are held responsible but have the opportunity to learn and recover from their mistakes, while still holding accountable those who distribute explicit photos of others.”

Senate Bill 6566 passed with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 31-16.

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    Senate votes to increase protections for victims of domestic violence

Senate votes to increase protections for victims of domestic violence

February 9th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, to increase protection for victims of domestic violence.

Senate Bill 6298 would add harassment to the list of domestic violence crimes that prohibit a convicted batterer from possessing a weapon.

“More than half of all women murdered with guns in the United States were killed by intimate partners or family,” Dhingra said. “We are helping to protect survivors of domestic violence and ensuring they don’t become causalities.”

In the state of Washington, in most cases, individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses lose their right to possess a firearm until that right is restored by a court of law. SB 6298 will ensure the state holds all perpetrators of domestic violence equally responsible, including those convicted of harassment.

“Crimes of domestic violence are some of the hardest to prosecute, and the most deadly call that law enforcement officers respond to,” Dhingra said. “This bill will help us keep weapons out of the hands of those who are likely to misuse them. The legislation is very narrowly tailored to impact only those individuals who have been convicted in our courts.”

The legislation is supported by the City of Seattle, the City Attorney’s Office, the Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

SB 6298 passed in the Senate by a strong bipartisan vote of 34-13.

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    Dhingra introduces resolution honoring Republic Day of India

Dhingra introduces resolution honoring Republic Day of India

January 26th, 2018|

Sen. Manka Dhingra introduced a resolution in the Senate to honor and celebrate Republic Day of India on Friday, Jan. 26. She delivered the following remarks:

“Thank you, Madam President.

“I rise today to honor the 69th Republic Day of India, celebrating the day in which India implemented its Constitution, taking the final step toward full independence.

“The nation of India defeated colonization and achieved independence through a peaceful, nonviolent resistance.

“Today we honor and celebrate the journey, which led to the establishment of the world’s largest, and one of the most diverse, democracies in the world—with over 300 languages and dialects spoken throughout the country.

“America shares many values with India including the constitutional tenants, which ensure dignity and liberty for its constituents and equality in the eyes of the law.

“Washington state also shares deep cultural and economic ties with India.

“Thousands of Indian-Americans live in Washington state and enrich every facet of our society—from the classroom, to the boardroom, to the battlefield.

“Indian-Americans are small business owners, entrepreneurs, and CEOs of Washington companies, including the founding officers of many tech companies, like the businesses in the 45th Legislative District.

“Madam President, I am proud to stand before you today and honor Republic Day 2018 as a symbol of the shared values of democracy and liberty, between the nation of India, our nation and our state.

“Thank you.”

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    Senate approves capital budget, community projects for 45th District

Senate approves capital budget, community projects for 45th District

January 18th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The long-delayed, $4 billion dollar state construction budget passed today by the Senate includes $1.8 million for local community projects in the 45h Legislative District.

Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, said the budget will fund construction of the Northshore Athletic Fields in Woodinville and the Willows Road Regional Trail Connection in Kirkland. Statewide, the budget will fund the largest-ever investment in K-12 school construction – about $1 billion.

“We did it!” Dhingra said. “Budgets are value statements. This budget shows that we are committed to fulfilling the state’s promise of fully funding public education and building new facilities for Washington’s 1.1 million school-aged children. This takes us one-step closer to ensuring that every student in Washington has access to a quality education and an individualized plan for success.”

Additionally, more than $112 million will go toward mental health services including $65 million for community mental health beds, and about $20 million to both Eastern and Western state hospitals for patient safety enhancements and renovations.

 

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    Senate votes to rename cancer research endowment in honor of the late Sen. Andy Hill

Senate votes to rename cancer research endowment in honor of the late Sen. Andy Hill

January 18th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Senate voted today to rename the Cancer Research Endowment Authority and Cancer Research Endowment (CARE) Fund in honor of Sen. Andy Hill.

This legislation, SB 5375, passed with overwhelming support.  

“Sen. Hill was a dedicated legislator,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond and Hill’s successor. “He was a champion for the communities of the 45th and served our district energetically. I was proud to support this legislation.”

Hill died in 2016 after a recurrence of lung cancer. The currently named CARE Fund is a public-private partnership that supports cancer research in Washington. In January, they announced $2.5 million in awards to researchers in Washington, including a grant to Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center that will focus on methods to improve diagnosis and treatment of lung metastasis.  

A full list of this year’s recipients can be found here.

 

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    Organizers hope 2nd annual Women’s March will encourage widespread activism

Organizers hope 2nd annual Women’s March will encourage widespread activism

January 15th, 2018|

Q13 Fox / Jan. 14, 2018

SEATTLE — Spurred by months of frustration over stories of sexual assault, a huge crowd is expected to march in Seattle this Saturday (January 20) in the second annual Women’s March, which they’re calling March 2.0.

This year, the march will happen exactly a year after President Donald Trump took office.

Organizers hope it will encourage widespread activism beyond the streets by those who advocate for civil rights, women’s and LGBTQ rights, as well as other causes.

On Sunday,  volunteers created posters for the march at The Riveter — a shared, workspace in Seattle that focuses on supporting women.

“We love that people are having conversations about what inspires them. And they’re thinking about what they want to do in the coming year,” organizer Jonna Bell told Q13 News.

“Everybody that I know that marched last year, kind of did something different this year, whether they wrote letters, or whether they did phone banking or they volunteered. I mean, it sort of inspired people to take real action,” Janine Brunyee with Be the Change Network said.

One of the speakers this year will be state senator Manka Dhingra.

Last November, she helped flip the state Senate to Democratic control by winning her district in Kirkland.

“This is about actually making sure that people have a voice. This is about defining a new normal. About making sure we are talking about respect, dignity and equality,” Dhingra said Sunday.

The march will begin with a rally at Cal Anderson Park beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday. The march to the Seattle Center will begin at 11:30 a.m. and there are events scheduled for Sunday, as well.

Participants are encouraged to use public transportation.