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    Cleveland: Bill to prohibit ‘panic defense’ overdue, honors Nikki

Cleveland: Bill to prohibit ‘panic defense’ overdue, honors Nikki

February 26th, 2020|

Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) released this statement today following Senate passage of House Bill 1687, a measure that prohibits defendants from using a victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation to justify violent assaults—a justification sometimes known as the “panic defense.” Because the bill had earlier passed the House, it can now be signed into law by the governor.

“This bill came to the Senate floor today in large part because of the violent and abominable killing of Nikki Kuhnhausen, a young transgender woman from Vancouver, last year. But the tremendous need for the legislation predates Nikki’s tragic death.

“By all accounts, Nikki would be alive today if not for a homophobia-based assault on her life. And, I suspect, so would others who have been similarly victimized.

“Also, by all accounts, Nikki was an uncommonly caring, compassionate and giving young woman. Any loss of life is horrific. But Nikki’s considerable record of befriending others makes her death even more senseless and unfathomable.

“I cannot imagine the grief felt by her family and friends and loved ones. I can only imagine that it must be all-consuming — and know that it falls to us to do whatever we can to prevent such unspeakable atrocities from reoccurring.

“The terrible truth is that vicious assaults have been perpetrated against transgender people, as well as others in the LGBTQ community, for far too long. This bill is a start. It is long overdue, and we must still do more.

“But today, let’s start here. And let’s continue along this path until people like Nikki have the protections they deserve — and the ability to enjoy the same safety and ability to live out their lives as anyone else.”

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For interviews:         Sen. Annette Cleveland, 360-786-7696
For information:       Rick Manugian, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7569

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    Senate passes Cleveland bill to boost safety for in-home caregivers

Senate passes Cleveland bill to boost safety for in-home caregivers

February 17th, 2020|

Legislation passed today by the Senate would direct state agencies to work with in-home care providers to develop protocols to protect long-term caregivers from harassment, abuse and discrimination.

“Sadly, it took the tragic shootings of a caregiver and a patient and a resident last year to bring attention to this need, but the truth is that caregivers have been facing harassment and discrimination in private home settings for some time,” Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) said. “These caregivers work in isolated settings, are often women and people of color, and may feel afraid to report abusive behavior for fear of retaliation.”

Senate Bill 6205, sponsored by Cleveland, would:

  • direct the state Department of Social and Health Services to convene a stakeholder work group to recommend best practices for training employers, workers, and service recipients to keep home care settings free from discrimination and abusive conduct;
  • establish boundaries that define abusive conduct, discriminatory harassment, inappropriate sexual behavior, physical sexual aggression, sexual contact, sexual harassment, workplace physical and verbal aggression, and workplace violence;
  • authorize the Department of Labor & Industries to enforce requirements governing worker training, recordkeeping and retaliation; and
  • provide culturally competent peer-to-peer training for caregivers.

“Because they work in homes, caregivers have no coworkers to turn to for advice and have limited options in how to go about reporting inappropriate behavior by a client,” said Cleveland, who chairs the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. “This is a critical first step to establish clearer boundaries so that caregivers can better know what to expect, how to deescalate a situation, how and when to report a situation, and what to do if a situation becomes unsafe.”

Having passed the Senate by a vote of 37-11, SB 6205 now goes to the House of Representatives.

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    Senate passes Cleveland bill to improve reporting of child abuse

Senate passes Cleveland bill to improve reporting of child abuse

February 14th, 2020|

Legislation passed today by the Senate would provide a web-based system to improve the reporting of, and response to, cases of child abuse and neglect.

“This will correct a breakdown in our system for reporting child abuse,” Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) said. “While the state has a system in place to make sure these incidents are reported, backed-up phone lines during peak hours have made it difficult for those entrusted to file the reports to get through.”

Senate Bill 6556, sponsored by Cleveland, would direct the state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to develop a web-based reporting portal accessible to those mandated to report child abuse and neglect. The portal must provide a call-back mechanism so callers placed on hold can leave a phone number for DCYF to call back and complete the report. The portal is modeled on a system used successfully by Adult Protective Services that handles 30 percent of all referrals.

As caseloads have increased, DCYF received 125,975 requests for intervention in 2019, leading to longer wait times and more abandoned calls, particularly during peak hours. A review of abandoned calls in May 2019 showed that 26 percent of callers hung up, but DCYF was unable to determine whether callers called back later or never called back.

“As this End Harm Line is a critical means of providing early intervention and support for our children and families, it is imperative that we streamline the process to ensure that we can get help to them more quickly,” Cleveland said.

Having passed the Senate by a vote of 46-0, SB 6556 now goes to the House of Representatives.

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    Cleveland bill would create web-based option for child-abuse reports

Cleveland bill would create web-based option for child-abuse reports

February 4th, 2020|

The state would provide a web-based system to improve the reporting of, and response to, cases of child abuse and neglect, under legislation passed today by the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee.

“With the state’s current limited resources, callers have been left on hold for up to an hour at a time, with alarming frequency,” Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) said. “We have no way of knowing if callers have given up entirely and if child abuse or neglect is being under-reported as a result. Neither of those conditions is acceptable under any circumstances.”

Senate Bill 6556, sponsored by Cleveland, would direct the state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to develop a web-based reporting portal accessible to those mandated to report child abuse and neglect. The portal must provide a call-back mechanism so callers placed on hold can leave a phone number for DCYF to call back and complete the report.

“Too often, we give our agencies responsibilities that are impossible to meet with limited resources. This bill is aimed at providing direction and support to DCYF in order to address this critical need as a top priority,” Cleveland said. “It’s modeled after an existing system used by Adult Protective Services that handles 30 percent of all referrals and has gotten high marks from staff.”

DCYF received 125,975 requests for intervention in 2019 as caseloads have increased, leading to longer wait times and more abandoned calls, particularly during peak hours. A review of abandoned calls in May 2019 showed that 26 percent of callers hung up, but DCYF was unable to determine whether callers called back later or never called back.

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    Legislators look to move forward on I-5 bridge through bistate effort

Legislators look to move forward on I-5 bridge through bistate effort

October 24th, 2019|

Sixteen Washington and Oregon state legislators will meet Friday in Vancouver to begin a bistate effort to build a new I-5 bridge.

This marks the first formal meeting of the full committee. The committee met informally last December, with Oregon members joining as guests prior to official endorsement of members by Oregon legislative leaders.

“Legislators in Southwest Washington have been working to reach consensus and to build a cohesive effort to renew plans for a new I-5 bridge,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver), whose legislation in 2017 made the joint committee possible. “I look forward to continuing this collaborative approach with our colleagues to the south. The only way either state can be successful in achieving a new bridge is if we work together to develop a proposal that benefits both states.”

Other members of the joint committee underscored that approach.

“A project of this size and importance requires considerable political will and collaboration,” said Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), a Co-Chair of the Oregon Joint Committee on Transportation. “It is time for both states to work to take care of a bridge that is not in good shape.”

Rep. Brandon Vick (R-Vancouver), a member of Washington’s southwest delegation, concurred. “While we each have different views and priorities based on our constituents,” he said, “we all agree on the need for this collaboration to get underway.”

Prior to Friday’s meeting, the bistate lawmakers will tour the existing I-5 bridge with transportation staff from both states.

“Safety is key! We need to concentrate on providing the public with a safe, functioning structure,” said Oregon Rep. Susan McLain (D-Forest Grove). “By working towards common goals with transparency and no surprises, we should be able to get the job done.”

The committee is made up of eight lawmakers from each state, four from each Senate and four from each House. Additional Washington legislators include Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) and Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma), the respective chairs of Washington’s Senate and House transportation committees; Sens. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) and Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver); and Reps. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver) and Paul Harris (R-Vancouver). Additional Oregon lawmakers include Sens. Lew Frederick (D-Portland), Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) and Deny Boles (R-Salem); and Reps. Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany), Caddy McKeown (D-Coos Bay) and Ron Noble (R-McMinnville).

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    Cleveland: Oregon commitments add momentum to new bridge effort

Cleveland: Oregon commitments add momentum to new bridge effort

August 14th, 2019|

Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) released this statement today following Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek’s announcement of a $5 million allocation from Oregon toward the re-opening of a project office for a new I-5 bridge and the appointment of Oregon lawmakers to the I-5 Bridge Replacement Bi-State Legislative Action Committee.

“Whether you’re a Washington resident or an Oregon resident, whether you live locally to the bridge or pass through to go farther north or south, this is great news. Everyone who uses this bridge needs relief, and anyone who lives or works in the immediate region will benefit. We need a new I-5 bridge that improves safety, reliability and our ability to cross the Columbia River. The current situation impedes not only traffic, but also hampers this region from fully growing our economy and job base that is so needed.  

“Oregon’s cash investment, particularly after having funded a major transportation revenue package in 2018, signals a solid commitment to continued work together to build the new I-5 bridge both our states need so desperately. And the formal appointment of Oregon lawmakers to the bi-state legislative committee will enable us to begin in earnest the collaborative process a successful project will require.

“Everyone knows how important a new bridge is to our communities and to our region. The replacement of the I-5 Bridge has been my biggest single priority since I first took office seven years ago, and I look forward to sitting down with our newly appointed Oregon counterparts and moving forward on a bridge that meets our 21st Century needs.”

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    Cleveland’s comprehensive opioid legislation signed into law

Cleveland’s comprehensive opioid legislation signed into law

May 8th, 2019|

Comprehensive legislation signed into law today by Gov. Inslee will take action on society’s growing opioid crisis on multiple fronts.

“A public health threat as pervasive as the opioid crisis requires a wide range of solutions,” said Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver), the sponsor of Senate Bill 5380. “This legislation addresses everything from prevention and education to treatment and swift responses to overdoses.”

Cleveland, who chairs the Senate Health Care Committee, noted that opioid abuse claimed more than 700 lives in Washington in 2018 and is a leading cause of accidental deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the total economic burden of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States at $78.5 billion a year, including the cost of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement. 

“The opioid epidemic is taking a toll on communities around our state, at tremendous financial cost, but the most terrible cost is to people and families,” she said. “Our communities are reeling from opioid misuse and abuse in too many ways to address with a single solution.”

SB 5380 modifies numerous protocols for using medications to treat opioid use disorder. It:

  • Permits pharmacists to partially fill certain prescriptions upon patient request.
  • Requires prescribers to discuss the risks of opioids with certain patients and provide the patient with the option to refuse an opioid prescription.
  • Establishes new requirements for how electronic health records integrate with the state’s prescription monitoring program and how the data can be used.
  • Requires the Health Care Authority and the Department of Health to partner and work with other state agencies on initiatives that promote a statewide approach in addressing opioid use disorder.
  • Permits the Secretary of Health to issue a standing order for opioid reversal medication and require pharmacists to provide written instructions for dispensing reversal medication for opioid overdoses.
  • Allows hospital emergency departments to dispense opioid overdose reversal medication when a patient is at risk of opioid overdose.

Legislature commits $35 million for new I-5 bridge

April 28th, 2019|

The two-year transportation budget passed today by the Legislature provides $35 million toward a new I-5 bridge.

“Today everyone who has been waiting and working for the replacement of our outdated bridge has 35 million reasons to celebrate,” Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) said. “We have made steady progress, step by step, over the past months and years toward this important goal, but this is the big step all those little steps made possible. This is a $35 million step.”

Cleveland said the investments reaffirm Washington state’s ongoing commitment to its partners in Oregon and at the federal level, and would not have been possible without the continued efforts of a bipartisan coalition of Southwest Washington legislators. Besides Cleveland, the coalition includes Sens. Ann Rivers (R-La Center) and Lynda Wilson (R- Vancouver) and Reps. Sharon Wylie (D-Vancouver), Monica Stonier (D-Vancouver), Paul Harris (R-Vancouver), Brandon Vick (R-Vancouver) and Larry Hoff (R-Vancouver). 

“From the day I took office in 2013, the replacement of the I-5 Bridge has been my biggest single priority,” she said. “It hasn’t been easy and we’ve faced many obstacles, but I never let up because I know how important a new bridge is to our communities and to our region.”

The $35 million consists of $17.5 million to open and operate an I-5 bridge project office, plus a second $17.5 million to fund the pre-design and planning of a new bridge. Earlier in the legislative session, Cleveland and a coalition of SW Washington colleagues had secured $8.5 million for the bridge office. In the final days of session, that amount increased to $17.5 million through continued negotiations.

On top of that, Cleveland was able to secure an additional $17.5 million to ensure that public outreach and bridge planning and pre-design work can begin concurrent with the efforts of the I-5 Bridge Replacement Legislative Action Committee in the months ahead.

“We are at a crucial point in our work to replace the I-5 bridge where concrete steps toward funding were necessary to continue forward in the most expeditious manner possible,” Cleveland said. “It’s time to put our money where our mouth is and demonstrate how this process differs from past practices as we proceed with an approach that makes the best use of this financial commitment.

“We all spend far too many hours waiting in bridge traffic that worsens every year. While the old bridge first built in 1917 has well served several generations, it’s time for a replacement bridge that meets our needs in this century.”

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    Cleveland: Nursing rest break bill should be corrected in public

Cleveland: Nursing rest break bill should be corrected in public

April 23rd, 2019|

Nurses and the public at large deserve to be able to observe the Legislature’s deliberations in correcting problems with legislation to ensure adequate, consistent work breaks for nurses, Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) said today.

Having passed out of the House on March 6, House Bill 1155 was amended on the Senate floor on April 16 and then passed by the Senate — even though one amendment was opposed by many senators and subsequently triggered public backlash.

The House refused to accede to the Senate amendments and called for both chambers to enter into a conference process in which six lawmakers — three from each chamber — meet in private to negotiate a final version of the bill. When a motion was made on the Senate floor to agree to the conference process, however, Cleveland motioned to reject the conference format and to correct the bill on the Senate floor.

“As I said when we voted on the floor last week, it’s extremely important that we address the issue of rest breaks for the good of the nursing profession, and for that reason I supported the bill even despite the floor amendment I opposed,” Cleveland said. “Since that time, I have received countless calls and emails from nurses in and outside my district, opposing this bill in its current form.

“I understand their alarm and I agree that the legislation should be fixed. But I felt the proper place to do that is on the Senate floor, in full view of the public — not behind closed doors. Nurses, and the larger public as well, have been tracking this bill closely and they have participated in the public process every step of the way. This is no time to shut them out.

“Given the public outcry over what has happened with this bill, it’s more important than ever that our constituents continue to be able to help guide us to a final policy. And they can’t do that if they can’t see what we’re doing.”

On the floor, however, the Senate’s motion to conference with the House carried, and Sens. Manka Dhingra, Kevin Van De Wege and Curtis King were appointed to represent the Senate in conference negotiations. Reps. Eileen Cody, Gina Mosbrucker and Mike Sells will represent the House.

Cleveland acknowledged that the conference process is an efficient, common means of negotiating final details of bills. But she said the rest break bill was no ordinary bill and had drawn far more interest than the vast majority of legislation.

“I felt this policy was too important, and getting it right was too important, to do it out of sight of the public,” she said. “I felt we should make whatever changes need to made on the floor, so everyone could see exactly what we’re doing, and why.”

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    Cleveland law will improve investigations of child sex abuse cases

Cleveland law will improve investigations of child sex abuse cases

April 22nd, 2019|

Investigations of sexual abuse of children will soon be conducted more quickly, accurately and thoroughly, thanks to legislation signed into law Friday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The genesis of Senate Bill 5461, sponsored by Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver), originated in Clark County with the goal of better protecting children and holding their abusers accountable.

“The sexual abuse of any child is horrific and unacceptable. We must do everything we can as a society to protect children by making sure any allegations are investigated promptly and to the best of our combined resources,” said Cleveland, who chairs the Senate Health Committee. “This legislation will make sure a report of sexual abuse of a child is investigated swiftly and as effectively as possible.”

Until now, investigations have been burdened by a lack of clarity on protocols for communications between various individuals and agencies with pertinent information. SB 5461 establishes formal guidelines for coordination between local law enforcement, the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, state agencies and advocacy groups, and licensed physical and mental health practitioners who work with child victims of sex abuse.

Together, these parties constitute a multidisciplinary child protection team, with the confidentiality of information shared among the team protected under law. Existing civil and criminal penalties apply to any inappropriate disclosure of the information.

Cleveland said the idea for the legislation came from the Arthur D. Curtis Children’s Justice Center in Clark County.

“We are fortunate in my district to have a long-time Children’s Justice Center that has been providing a safe, child-focused place for alleged child victims of abuse to seek support for over 20 years,” Cleveland said. “They identified a barrier to their work that required legislative action.

 “Their suggestions for coordinating county resources should make a dramatic difference, not just in Clark County but other counties as well. This is going to improve investigations and help reduce trauma for children in communities across our state.”

The law applies to investigations of online sexual exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation of minors, child fatalities, child physical abuse, and criminal child neglect, with each county required to develop written protocols.