A measure from Rep. Gina Mosbrucker that would create a Joint Legislative Task Force to identify the role of the workplace in helping to curb domestic violence gained unanimous approval Thursday in the Washington State House of Representatives. It was the second policy bill to pass the House since the Legislature reconvened for the 2020 session Jan. 13.
“Over the past two years as I’ve become involved in the very sensitive issue of domestic violence abuse, one of the first things I learned was when victims go to work, it’s not just to earn a paycheck. They’re going because it’s a safe place,” said Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale. “If that’s the one place they feel safe throughout the day away from the perpetrator, I think we need to see how we can help as a business community and as employers.”
Under House Bill 1056, the new task force must review the role of the workplace in the lives of individuals experiencing domestic violence, the appropriate role of employers and employees in helping reduce the incidence of domestic violence, and whether legislation is needed to address these issues.
The task force would be made up of one member each representing the Association of Washington Business; National Federation of Independent Business; Washington Hospitality Association; Washington Retail Association; Washington State Labor Council; Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs; Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence; a federally recognized tribe member; a business owner; a survivor of domestic violence; and up to two other members. Task force members would be appointed by the state Department of Commerce.
A preliminary report of the task force findings would be provided to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2020, with a final report due Dec. 1, 2021.
“Nationwide, one in three women and one in four men have been victims of domestic violence. Here in Washington state, about 41 percent of women and 32 percent of men have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Between 2006 and 2015, 563 Washingtonians were killed as a result of intimate partner violence,” said Mosbrucker. “Often, the workplace is the only safe place for these victims. This is yet another way to seek out and provide important tools to help domestic violence victims escape their abusers.”
House Bill 1056 is the third in a series of bills Mosbrucker introduced last year to help domestic violence survivors. It also passed the House last year with a unanimous vote, but stalled in a Senate committee. Her two other measures passed the Legislature and became law. House Bill 1532 provides information to domestic violence victims about the signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injuries. House Bill 1533 requires employers to display a poster from the state Employment Security Department in the workplace that provides resource information for domestic violence victims to get help.
“These bills have helped to shine a spotlight on what has been an issue many, even in the Legislature, have avoided. Chances are, everyone knows a survivor of domestic violence. It’s time to bring this issue out of the shadows and empower these victims to get the help they need,” added Mosbrucker.
House Bill 1056 now returns to the Senate for further consideration.