OLYMPIA, Washington — During the 2019 legislative session, Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) introduced several measures to improve public safety throughout Washington state. Recently, Gov. Jay Inslee signed two of them into law.
The first, House Bill 1326, known as Jennifer and Michella’s Law, requires a biological sample to be collected for purposes of DNA identification analysis from an adult or juvenile convicted of a felony, or convicted of indecent exposure.
“The background of this bill came to me by the parents of Jennifer Bastian and Michella Welch, two children murdered within five months of each other in the Tacoma area in 1986,” Klippert said. “Their cases were considered ‘cold cases’ for over 30 years, until their killers’ DNA was tested after being collected in association with another crime. Justice and closure were finally brought to these cases and was the inspiration for this legislation. DNA is one of the most effective crime-fighting tools for law enforcement. This bill will help solve violent crimes, including sexual assault cases and homicides, by ensuring DNA samples are collected and entered into the system. This is good public safety policy.”
The second bill, House Bill 1505, amends current statute to protect the identifiable information of children who are victims of sexual assault from being publicly disclosed through the Public Records Act. It also restricts disclosure of the same information under the Criminal Records Privacy Act.
“This bill is about protecting children,” Klippert said. “It’s about preventing children from having to relive their assault. There was a recent incident involving the potential disclosure of information regarding a specific sexual assault. The victim was terrified her identity could be publicly revealed. Her family had to take legal action to prevent the disclosure of information. Child victims and their families shouldn’t have to take these measures to protect their confidential, identifiable information. Under current law, if this information was requested, law enforcement is obligated to provide the information. This bill simply amends current law to protect child victims of sexual assault.”
Both bills go into effect later this year.