It is true, bipartisanship really does still exist! The 72-hour notification bill (SB 5147/HB 1250), one of the Coalition’s legislative priorities, passed the Senate unanimously and easily passed in the House this past week with only seven voting against it.
This bill sought to reinstate an important part of the Becca Bill which gave youth shelters up to 72 hours to notify a youth’s guardian after they checked into a youth shelter. It had previously been law, but had sunset and had decreased the number of hours down to only eight. Eight hours is not enough time for the shelter to engage with youth and be able to provide rehabilitative services. Many youth also come to shelters after they have runaway from their families and eight hours does not allow families enough time to resolve conflicts and reunify. Thanks to all the legislators of our State, our youth will have a safe and stable place to stay and they will not have to avoid shelters in fear of their parents being notified immediately. We are now asking Governor Jay Inslee to sign the bill into law on Youth Advocacy Day this Friday, February 22 to show the youth of Washington State that their governor and legislators are behind them.
Even though we have a very exciting win, youth advocacy does not stop here. As Youth Advocacy Day approaches, one of the Coalition’s priorities, the Youth Opportunities Act (HB 1651 / SB 5689 ), is still under consideration. Currently Washington is one of only 8 states that makes juvenile records open to the public and available to be published online. This means that people with criminal records from their youth, before the age of 18, are subject to additional barriers accessing housing, education, and employment. The Youth Opportunities Act would seal juvenile records to the public, except in the case of serious violent offenses, and prohibit courts from disseminating or selling this information. This information is currently sold to background check companies who make money at the expense of youth and young adults.
The Youth Opportunities Act would remove barriers for young people seeking opportunities, and keep them from paying for childhood mistakes in their adult lives. Please take action to move this bill out of committee and onto the house floor by making a public comment on the Senate version of the bill or by calling your legislators using the legislative hotline, 1-800-562-6000.
P.S. For a great summary of youth advocacy around these and other important issues, check out Senator Frockt’s blog post!