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State Rep. Freeman's bills help families in child welfare system

Mirror staff reports:

In his first term as a state legislator in Olympia, State Rep. Roger Freeman (D-District 30) helped craft and pass four bills in Olympia, chief among them House Bill 1821, which is aimed at protecting children and parents who have been separated by the child welfare system.

HB 1821 encourages the safe reunification of families and reduces costs to Washington's foster care system, according to his office. The bill expands the use of a "good cause exception" that can be filed in lieu of parental termination. The exception is based on a parent's ability to pay for court-ordered services that allow a child's safe return home.

As a public defender who has spent most of his time working with families at risk, Freeman said the passage of HB 1821 was an important step in keeping families together.

"Our children are among the most vulnerable in our society - and those in the child welfare system are at an extreme disadvantage," the former Federal Way City Councilmember said. "I'm proud to have been an advocate for these changes to help strengthen families who have encountered the child welfare system, and provide a path for hope, recovery and success."

HB 1774 was another piece of legislation aimed at improving the child welfare system, with its focus on reviewing the current system to "develop measurements and performance metrics for safety, permanency and well-being."

HB 1265 dealt with non-moving traffic tickets. The bill requires updated ticket language to state that failure to respond or appear in court may result (rather than will result) in a driver's license suspension. These changes will allow for proper notification of state law and protects due process rights, Freeman's office notes.

Finally, HB 1868 was inspired by Wynn Loiland, a South King Fire and Rescue firefighter who was struck by a car when responding to an incident on I-5. This bill "ensures that firefighters and police officers who are catastrophically injured in the line of duty are cared for by expanding eligibility for reimbursement of medical insurance premium costs for members of the Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' Retirement System Plan 2."

In other news

State Rep. Linda Kochmar (R-District 30), a former Federal Way City Councilmember, was the prime sponsor of two bills. HB 2028 seeks to prescribe penalties related to marijuana intoxication and negligent driving. No vote has been taken on that bill. HB 4623 recognized Federal Way High School student Caleb Dawson as a recipient of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award.

State Sen. Tracey Eide (D-District 30) has been the primary sponsor on 12 bills, including bills related to authorizing bonds for transportation funding, expanding metal theft provisions, and health insurance for certain law enforcement/firefighters disabled in the line of duty.

 

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