OLYMPIA…Sen. Lynda Wilson’s legislation to help domestic-violence victims who need legal assistance was signed today by Gov. Jay Inslee. Under Washington’s constitution, the law created by Senate Bill 5213 will become effective June 7.
“I had looked forward to seeing both of my bills to support domestic-violence victims reach the governor, but even though only one made it through the process, it makes an important change,” said Wilson, R-Vancouver, who attended the bill-signing ceremony at the Capitol. “This new law is for the victims of domestic violence who have limited resources, and choose for financial reasons to seek assistance from limited license legal technicians rather than attorneys. I don’t want victims to hold off on seeking a protection order because they’re worried about being stuck with the fee, and the bill signed today addresses that.
“Because LLLTs represent a relatively new field, the law needed updating to make it clear that courts can award fees to them just as fees are awarded to an attorney. Otherwise the victim, not the accused abuser, might have to pay the LLLT – or the LLLT doesn’t get paid. That isn’t right,” said Wilson, who introduced SB 5213 after learning LLLTs sometimes are not paid reliably for their work.
LLLTs are licensed by the state Supreme Court but limited to family-law matters, such as assisting with domestic-violence protection orders. Because they are not attorneys, their services can be more affordable, Wilson explained.
Although the 2018 legislative session ended only a week ago, Wilson is already looking to renew her effort to alert domestic-violence victims in real time when their perpetrators are nearby. This year’s Senate Bill 6292 would have updated the state’s electronic-monitoring statutes to allow such notifications. The Senate passed her measure unanimously, but it stalled in the House of Representatives.
Her bill that was signed today received unanimous support in the Senate on Feb. 9 and overwhelming support from the House on Feb. 28. The Legislature’s 60-day session ended March 8.