For the third time in three years, the state House of Representatives has unanimously approved a bill authored by Rep. Gina Mosbrucker that would create a task force on domestic violence and workplace resources to identify the role of the workplace in helping to curb domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is an epidemic in the state of Washington and across the nation. One in four women and one in seven men are affected by domestic violence from an abusive partner in their household. The pandemic, which has forced many people to stay home, has resulted in these numbers rising,” said Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale.
“We learned from survivors in many interviews across the state and in the 14th District that often the survivor can only go to certain locations without the heavy-handed oversight of the perpetrator. They’re usually allowed to go to work or to leave to do business in order to pay bills, rent or a house payment, because the perpetrator doesn’t want anyone to discover the abuse,” added Mosbrucker. “This bill puts together a group to answer the question of how businesses and the workplace can possibly help break the cycle of domestic violence.”
House Bill 1315 passed the House on Monday with a vote of 97-0. Under the bill, the Department of Commerce is required to convene a task force on domestic violence and workplace resources, which would be made up of one member of the:
- Association of Washington Business;
- National Federation of Independent Business;
- Washington Hospitality Association;
- Washington Retail Association;
- Washington State Labor Council;
- Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence;
- a business owner;
- a survivor of domestic violence;
- a member of a federally-recognized tribe; and
- up to two additional members.
The task force is charged with reviewing the role of the workplace in the lives of individuals experiencing domestic violence, the appropriate role of employers and employees in helping to reduce the incidence of domestic violence, and whether legislation is needed to address these issues.
“No one should feel unsafe in their home. It shouldn’t matter that it is ‘domestic.’ What matters is that violence is still violence. We must reach out and be a hand for those who are suffering in silence,” Mosbrucker said during a virtual House floor speech Monday.
This is the third time in three years the bill has passed the House with a unanimous vote. Mosbrucker originally introduced the legislation as House Bill 1056 in 2019. The measure passed the House in 2019, but died in the Senate in the first year. In 2020, it passed both chambers of the Legislature, but was one of 147 bills to be vetoed last year by Gov. Jay Inslee in an effort to save money as the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning to spread across Washington.
“Hopefully, the third time we can finally bring it across the finish line. Domestic violence victims have waited and suffered long enough,” concluded Mosbrucker.
It’s the second bill authored by Mosbrucker to pass from the House unanimously this year. House Bill 1455 was approved by the House on Feb. 24. It would require the Employment Security Department and the Department of Labor and Industries to examine practices of how they disclose individual Social Security numbers in agency correspondence with third-party entities. The bill is in response to recent personal data breaches within state agencies.
Both bills are now under consideration in the Senate.