Week 5 Legislative Update: Empowering Judges, Addressing Police Misconduct, & Protecting Reproductive Rights

Friends and neighbors,

The 2024 legislative session reached its halfway point on February 6th, with significant progress made on important issues including criminal legal reform, gun violence prevention, and expanding access to democratic participation. On the horizon is House Origin Cutoff, the deadline for bills to clear their chamber of introduction. Over the next week, my colleague and I will be immersed in floor debates and refining legislation to ensure it best serves all Washingtonians.

Empowering Judges for Effective Rehabilitation

A notable piece of legislation garnering support is House Bill 1994. This bill addresses the challenge faced by individuals with underlying behavioral health needs who enter the criminal legal system on misdemeanor offenses. Often trapped in a cycle of homelessness, crisis, and incarceration, these individuals require treatment, not punishment.

House Bill 1994 proposes an innovative solution: empowering judges to offer treatment options coupled with tailored accountability measures. This comprehensive approach targets the root causes of recidivism while providing essential support and stability for individuals to rebuild their lives. Following its passage through the House Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry Committee, the bill currently awaits scheduling for a vote by the full House. To learn more about this legislation, watch my most recent video update here or click on the image above.

Rep. Darya Farivar has sponsored a bill that would allow judges to set alternatives to jail, like getting treatment for mental health or substance abuse, and to eventually dismiss a case if a defendant complies. (Kevin Clark / The Seattle Times)
Rep. Darya Farivar has sponsored a bill that would allow judges to set alternatives to jail, like getting treatment for mental health or substance abuse, and to eventually dismiss a case if a defendant complies. (Kevin Clark / The Seattle Times)

For a deeper dive into House Bill 1994’s potential impact, I invite you to read this Seattle Times analysis.

Systemic Law Enforcement Misconduct

Tragedies like Jahnavi Kandula, Timothy Green, and Manny Ellis spurred our communities and legislature to action to address law enforcement misconduct. I’m proud to share that this week, Washington’s House of Representatives votes to pass a police accountability measure, House Bill 1445. This legislation empowers the Attorney General to investigate systemic misconduct by police, filling gaps left by stretched federal resources. This includes probing excessive force and discriminatory practices.

Timothy Green Memorial, August 24, 2023.

Additionally, the bill allows the Attorney General to develop model policies promoting best practices within police agencies. This two-pronged approach aims to prevent future tragedies and ensure police accountability. The bill now awaits consideration by the Senate.

Reproductive Freedom: Standing Strong Against Restrictions  

Time and again, Washington Legislative Republicans have tried to downplay the threat to reproductive rights in our state. Behind their assurances, however, lies a different story – Washington Republicans have introduced more than 40 bills since 2016 aimed at restricting abortion and reproductive care rights.

We won’t back down. My colleagues and I are standing strong, blocking these restrictive bills and passing laws to protect those seeking reproductive care, our healthcare providers, and your private healthcare data. Let’s be clear: we are steadfast in our commitment to defending your reproductive freedom in Washington state. Take a look:

LGBTQ+ Commissioner Positions Open   

The LGBTQ Commission started in 2019, after Gov. Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5356, creating the commission, into law.  If you identify as part of the queer community, are over 18, and a Washington resident, you can apply to be a commissioner. As an LGBTQ Commissioner, you’ll listen and engage with the LGBTQ+ community and bring those voices forward to our state government.

Part of the job also includes monitoring legislation that directly impacts the LGBTQ+ community, from laws that have already been implemented to bills still in consideration at the Legislature. Some recent examples include:

  • HB 1469, an incredibly important bill, that protects gender-affirming care and was signed by the Governor in April 2023.
  • HB 1151, which mandates provided coverage for fertility services, and is currently in the House Rules Committee.
  • HB 1028 which promoted trauma-informed responses in the legal system to support crime victims and witnesses. This was passed and signed into law, effective as of July 2023.

Keeping track of the bills in the legislative process is vital to keeping the LGBTQ+ community in Washington in the loop. Feedback from LGBTQ+ community is essential to representation, and the only way for that to happen is to have members of the community on the Commission.

If you are interested in applying or know anyone else who may be, please go to the Governor’s Office of Boards and Commissions here.

In service,

Darya Farivar

WA State Representative

46th Legislative District
Pronouns: she/her/hers