Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Bill Is On The Move! (with update)

Success! Yesterday afternoon, the Washington State Senate Judiciary Committee "voted out" Senate Bill 5832 (extending child sex abuse statute of limitations to the victim's 28 birthday). Apparently this means that it is now on to the House for consideration. This is a good thing. The sticking point with the bill over the past few years has been with the Senate, not the House. So hurray! (BTW - ultimate bill sponsors were Sens. Chris Marr, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, and Val Stevens.)

: Turns out, the next step is to go to the Senate Rules Committee, which then will decide whether to "pull" the bill to the Senate Floor. Oops. So many steps... So little understanding by me....

I've been talking about the importance of this bill here, here and here. Then, when I found out that the Senate Judiciary Committee was having a hearing on the bill this past Wednesday, I figured I had to walk my talk. So I went and testified. And sort of got the feeling that the bill would pass, what with its relatively modest reach (since it does not eliminate the statute of limitations entirely) and with the backing of the State Sentencing Guideline Commission chair. But it ain't over until it's over, as the saying goes. So I called Lidia Mori - the staff member that wrote the bill report - at the end of the day yesterday, and she was able to give me the good news. Congratulations go out to all the judiciary committee members (their emails are listed here, if you want to send them a note).

And I want to stress what I learned on the day of testimony: what a difference it made, for my friends (Don Brockett in particular) to have worked so hard behind the scenes for so long on this issue. This bill would not exist, much less pass, if it were not for Don. I know there have been points where he felt like he would never make this happen. Here it was, his own backyard. Here he was, a pretty powerful guy - former head county prosecutor for 25 years. And yet he wasn't making a dent. Except that he was. In one fell swoop. That's the headline. But I know about the years of hard work that got that headline to appear. Good for Don. Good for us - lucky us - that he stuck to it. And thank you, all of you out there, working so hard, on other issues, feeling like no matter how loud you get, nothing happens. Because things do happen. The very fact that you are trying means that you are making a difference. Hopefully there will be outcome too - not just process, but outcome. But thank you first, for making the effort because you know you must, regardless of outcome. It is the right thing to do.

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