Rep. Gina Mosbrucker has introduced legislation that seeks to identify, address and reduce the growing number of missing and murdered indigenous women in Washington state.
House Bill 1713 was submitted Friday to the state Code Reviser’s office by Mosbrucker, who was accompanied by Native American women from three Washington tribes, a representative of the Washington State Patrol, and a bipartisan group of supportive legislators. On Monday, it was referred to the House Public Safety Committee for consideration.
“This bill continues the momentum of my legislation, passed last year, which has helped to build awareness of this disturbing issue,” saidMosbrucker, R-Goldendale.
Mosbrucker noted the measure she passed last year, House Bill 2951, brought the Washington State Patrol together with federally recognized tribes, tribal law enforcement, urban Indian organizations and the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs to study and identify the issue of missing Native American women in Washington state and report recommendations to the Legislature.
“After eight meetings across the state with the tribes, including one near Yakima in which nearly 300 people attended, we have a much better handle of just how serious this issue is in Washington state. There were so many heartbreaking stories and I’m very grateful for those who had the courage to tell them,” said Mosbrucker.
“We’re listening to the voices of the tribes and hearing everyone across the state and in the 14th District,” she added. “My latest bill, introduced this past week, is the next step in finding these women, determining what happened, and bringing the perpetrators to justice.”
House Bill 1713 would establish two tribal liaison positions within the Washington State Patrol — one from Eastern Washington, the other from Western Washington — to build relationships between governmental organizations and native communities.
“Trust-building is an important component of helping to make our tribal leaders and residents feel more comfortable about coming forward when such tragedies happen within their communities,” addedMosbrucker.
The measure also establishes a legislative task force on missing and murdered Native American women to monitor and improve law enforcement response.
“The task force would work to develop a best practices protocol for law enforcement response, as well as set up a database of nonprofit or nongovernmental agencies that would provide support in locating missing Native American women,” added Mosbrucker.
The bill also contains an emergency clause to allow it to take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature, rather than the standard 90-day waiting period.
“This is an emergency and we can no longer wait to take action,” said Mosbrucker. “For too long, this problem has existed in the shadows and it has allowed murderers and kidnappers to walk free, while lives are shattered. But no longer! We will continue to move forward until these crimes are no longer ignored and justice is served. These victims deserve no less!”