On Wednesday, the State Legislature officially passed a bill to establish a Hate Crime Hotline in the office of the Washington State Attorney General.

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SB 5247 passed the Senate, it's chamber of origin, earlier this month by a 30-18 vote.  It passed the House Wednesday by a 56-39 vote.  The bill now goes to Governor Jay Inslee's office for his signature and would take effect January 1st of 2025.  The bill was sponsored by Sen. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle.

Sen. Javier Valdez, D-46
Sen. Javier Valdez, D-46
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What Does The Hotline Do?

Any law enforcement agency in this state that receives a report of a hate crime or bias incident will direct the victim to call the hotline.  The hotline must be staffed in the AG's office during business hours.

If the call reported the incident to law enforcement, the AG's office will then work with local law enforcement, sharing information about the incident relayed to them by the victim.

WA AG Bob Ferguson
WA AG Bob Ferguson
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What is a Hate Crime?

Under Washington State Law a hate crime is an act where a person physically injures, damages property, or puts a person or group of people under a reasonable threat of harm based on a number of factors including, but not limited to,  race, color, religion, and sexual orientation.

The law, and the hotline, also deals with 'bias' incidents. These are not crimes  under Washington State law but instead are defined as:

a person's hostile expression of animus toward another person, relating to the other person's actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, or mental, physical, or sensory disability.

'Bias' incidents are not recognized as free speech.

Canva
Canva
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The Attorney General's office, under the law, must set up a pilot program in at least  three Counties around the State, a minimum of one in Eastern Washington, by January 1st 2025.  The hotline must be ready to go statewide by January 1st 2027.

There Is One Caveat...

The bill also carries a "Null and Void Clause" meaning that if funding for the hotline is not provided in the State budget, then the act is null and void and the hotline is inactive.

Missing Persons in Washington State

The gallery of persons currently listed as missing on the MUPU list in Washington State. Each picture contains the missing person's name, when they went missing, and which law enforcement agency to contact if you know something that could help.

Gallery Credit: Brian Stephenson