Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Orwall’s 10/12/17 update: Air Quality / Sexual Assault Kits & $3M SAKI Grant / PSSC New Health Sciences building

Air quality study

One important achievement this year was securing $250,000 in the state operating budget for a study to determine noise, vibration, and air quality issues in our area.

seatac airport

The state has issued the money for UW to complete the ultrafine particle study, the first step of the larger airport impact study.

Rep. Mike Pellicciotti and I are working closely with Sen. Karen Keiser and  U.S. Rep. Adam Smith on aligning air quality and noise issues’ federal and state resources to address these critical matters and help our South King County region determine the impact to our families, which will ensure our communities remain livable and secure.

Sexual Assault Kit reform updates

A few years ago, I learned that most sexual assault kits (SAKs) in our state were being stored on shelves instead of being sent to the lab for testing.

Capitol Ideas

That’s when I began working closely with colleagues across the aisle and across the rotunda to get legislation passed.

So far, we’ve come a long way in addressing the 6,000 untested SAKs and creating a survivor centered system.

This week I recorded a podcast on this issue, click on the Capitol Ideas image to listen to it.

Many people have been involved in the process, but I want to highlight the work and dedication of Rep. Gina McCabe, Sens. Ann Rivers and David Frockt, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Capt. Monica Alexander and the staff from the State Patrol, courageous survivor voices, and all of the hard working members of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Task Force.

Alexander McCabe Orwall

Here’s a brief progress report on what the $4.4 million state investment is accomplishing:

  • The State Patrol is setting up the first state tracking system where survivors can go online to check the status of their kits. The program will be up and running by the end of 2018.
  • The State Lab has hired seven new staff dedicated to testing SAKs (all new kits must be submitted and tested).
  • A private lab has started testing older kits. Twenty six (30%) of the 87 kits tested have had a CODIS hit in the FBI database and are being re-investigated.
  • New state investments have allowed Harborview to train over 300 nurses to conduct specialized exams for victims to become SANEs (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners).
  • Rep. Gina McCabe has introduced bills to address gaps in coverage of SANEs and payment for services.

Washington awarded SAKI Grant

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance recently released the FY 2017 National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) award recipients. Thanks to Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s tireless efforts, Washington was granted $3 million to build on the accomplishments of the SAFE Task Force and create a holistic victim-centered approach to address the SAKs backlog by:

  • Inventorying, testing, and tracking unsubmitted SAKs
  • Creating a statewide model for victim-centered, trauma informed training
  • Establishing a SAKI Team to guide jurisdictions with the investigation and prosecution of cases that arise from the testing of SAKs.

Half of the grant money will pay for the testing of 2,100 rape kits—that contain forensic evidence collected from a victim’s clothing and body—out of the estimated 6,000 untested kits statewide.

The other half will be spread out over three years to fund an investigative team that will travel across the state to conduct an inventory of the untested kits and will help local police departments prioritize the kits for testing.

For more information please check out the Attorney General’s press release, as well as this Seattle Times story.

Highline’s Puget Sound Skills Center gets a new Health Sciences building

Last month I attended the grand opening of the new Health Sciences building at the Puget Sound Skills Center. The 2015-2017 state Capital Budget included $19.4 million for this project. As it was fully funded by the state, it had no impact on the school district’s capital fund.

The new 26,500 square feet building includes:

  • A 250-seat lecture hall
  • An adjacent multipurpose room that can seat 200 people
  • Three labs: a state-of-the-art nursing lab, a biomedical lab, and a high-tech dental lab
  • A working dental clinic
  • Classrooms and open space for each program

Learn more about this amazing building in this Daily Journal of Commerce story.

Thank you for reading this e-newsletter. If you have any questions or need more information on any of the topics discussed above, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.