Dear friends and neighbors,
Much is being reported on the failures of the 2014 legislative session. For example, the Legislature did not pass a transportation package, there was no new education funding, and the Republican majority blocked the Legislature from passing a capital budget for the first time since 1996. However, there were some good things that came from our work.
Today, Gov. Jay Inslee signed two very important pieces of legislation that will have a tremendous impact for thousands of Washingtonians and I was proud to stand with him as they were both signed into law.
House Bill 1651 allows juvenile records to be sealed by the courts
For years in our state, access to juvenile records in our state prevented people from being able to get a job, rent an apartment, or get an education. This helped perpetuate and prolong a cycle of recidivism and poverty among those who have had a juvenile offense.
I am proud to say that with today’s bill signing, more than 6,000 to 7,000 non-violent juvenile offenders each year will be able to have their juvenile records sealed by a judge if the crime is non-violent and is not a most serious offense, a sex offense, or a felony drug offense.
This has been an issue that I and many in the juvenile justice community have worked on for years. Today, Washington state joins the ranks of 42 other states across the country that can seal juvenile records upon completion of the terms and conditions set by the court.
Homelessness housing funding source renewed for another four years
Who knew that a $40 document filing fee would create such an upset? This minimal fee is essential to providing thousands of vulnerable homeless women, children, veterans, mentally ill and disabled Washingtonians with safe places to sleep at night. It was put in jeopardy during the session, when Sen. Jan Angel unceremoniously killed the bill that would have extended the fee. Fortunately, we were able to restore the fee through legislation in the final days of the session.
The extension of the document filing fee for another four years means that community and county programs that depend on the document filing fee to provide badly needed financial resources will have their grants in place come next year – the year the fee was set to decrease.
While I am relieved that we were able to come to a compromise solution to extend the document filing fee on real estate transactions, we need to seriously consider making the fee permanent as I proposed in the bill I sponsored. Our homeless families and children have enough to worry about without wondering where they will do their homework or sleep at night.
I continue to be concerned that issues that impact our low-income families break down into highly partisan discussions at the end of every session. I will always stand with the homeless.
I encourage you to keep in contact with me if you have any feedback, comments or concern as to how we can make our community, our district and our state a better place to live.