Bill would help Native women
January 30, 2019
Murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls are the focus of a bill introduced in the Washington House of Representatives on Friday.
Last year, Washington Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, a Republican from Goldendale, sponsored a bill that calls on the Governor's office and Washington State Patrol to find a way to count every murdered and/or missing Indigenous woman in the state.
A final report isn't due out until this June, but Mosbrucker says she doesn't want to wait.
"What we were concerned about was that, one, we would lose awareness on this issue, and two, that there's more and more women missing all the time and currently missing," Mosbrucker said.
So, she has introduced a new bill that would add two liaisons to the Washington State Patrol to improve government-tribal relations. Mosbrucker also wants to set up a task force and find a way to streamline how missing persons cases are handled in the state.
Mosbrucker said the bill has an emergency clause that eliminates a 90-day waiting period before the new law could take effect.
The State Patrol and representatives from the Governor's office have been on a fact-finding mission, hosting meetings statewide in Native communities and in Seattle over the last year.
"The things that are in this legislation are things that we learned on that tour," Mosbrucker said.
"[We wanted] to make sure we were addressing the concerns of the urban population, which the numbers are cited over 70 percent have moved from the reservations," Mosbrucker said.
According to a report from the Urban Indian Health Institute, Tacoma and Seattle rank among the top 10 cities nationwide with the highest number of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. As a state, Washington overall ranks third highest in the report.
This story is re-printed with permission from the Northwest News Network, a public media collaborative of NPR member stations covering Washington, Idaho and Oregon. Learn more at nwnewsnetwork.org.