Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This week, the House completed its action on Senate bills, and the Senate completed its action on House bills; we are now in the home stretch of the regular session. But budget negotiations have a long way to go, and I expect a special session during the month of May.
The highlight of my week was the unanimous passage in the House of Senate Bill (SB) 5105, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Dammeier, to place conditions on the state’s housing voucher program for released offenders. When offenders are transitioning back into our communities, it is critical that the Department of Corrections coordinate with communities and checks are in place to keep our neighborhoods safe. The legislation sets up a Department of Corrections list of approved housing providers, requires a community impact statement when a new housing provider comes onto the list, improves notification requirements, prevents concentration of voucher-funded housing within a neighborhood, and allows cities to request removal of housing providers from the list if necessary.
The story of SB 5105 dates back to last summer, when Tina Burns and other residents of the Shaw Road neighborhood learned that sex offenders might move into a house on Shaw Road. Neighbors set up a Facebook page and packed a special city council meeting at the Pioneer Park Pavilion. The city council passed a moratorium on halfway houses in the city.
We quickly discovered state law limited the city’s options for responding to the situation on Shaw Road. Then we found out residents of Marysville were facing similar issues, only in their case, they were responding after multiple houses for sex offenders had already begun operation. Sen. Dammeier, Rep. Morrell, and I joined with legislators from Marysville and stakeholders from throughout the state to draft SB 5105 and its companion, House Bill 1232.
In the Shaw Road neighborhood, a lady named Julie Door took the lead. She kept her neighbors engaged at the city and state levels by posting updates to Facebook, bringing people to testify at House and Senate hearings, networking with neighborhood activists from Marysville and lobbyists for various interest groups, and organizing a massive statewide letter drive. While hundreds of people were involved in getting SB 5105 passed, Julie Door deserves a lot of the credit. She is the most impressive citizen lobbyist I have known. When the House passed the bill unanimously, Julie was there in the gallery.
Now that SB 5105 has passed the House and the Senate, the bill will go back to the Senate for final agreement, then on to the governor’s desk. I am truly proud of Julie and others from our community who have made this possible.
468 John L.O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
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