A pair of bills sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, received near unanimous and bipartisan support Friday from the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 5797, which ensures that victims of domestic violence have fair and equal access to housing, was amended and will return to the Senate, while SB 5568, which encourages the use of specialty courts with an emphasis on the use of Veterans Treatment Courts, passed through the House unchanged and now heads to the governor for his signature.
SB 5797, the Fair Tenant Screening Act Part 2, expands the original act to include protections for victims of domestic violence. Currently, tenant screening reports are allowed to contain information about domestic violence protection orders and eviction lawsuits. This bill will remove that information from those reports.
“We made great progress on the Fair Tenant Screening Act a few years ago and this bill helps finish the work we started on it,” Hobbs said. “Being a victim of domestic violence is a trauma I couldn’t imagine. There’s no reason why someone should have to have that horrible incident brought up again while looking for a home. This bill prevents that from happening.”
Current research indicates that one in five veterans suffer from some type of behavioral health issue once they return to civilian life, which is the motivation behind Hobbs’ sponsorship of SB 5568.
“The transition back to civilian life can be a difficult one for our veterans,” said Hobbs, who served in the conflicts in Iraq and Kosovo. “The issues facing our veterans are hard to understand for someone who hasn’t gone through it. My hope is that by encouraging the use of courts that specialize in the issues facing our veterans we can help ease that transition.”
VTCs are located in Clark, Thurston, Spokane, Pierce and King Counties. These courts provide opportunities for rehabilitation, rather than incarceration, for veterans and service members experiencing behavioral health problems.