The House of Representatives has adopted two measures sponsored by Rep. Maureen Walsh.
The first bill, passed Feb. 11, would end the practice of having corrections uniforms made by prison inmates. The legislation was prompted by corrections officers from Walla Walla Penitentiary contacting Walsh with their concerns.
House Bill 2346 was passed 92-3 and would provide an exemption on the requirement for Correctional Industries to make products used in state government.
“Correctional Industries is a great service for inmates to learn work skills and for the public to benefit in reduced costs. However, this is one product that should not be made by prisoners,” said Walsh, R-Walla Walla. “Our corrections officers deserve to have well-made uniforms so they can move about in dangerous situations and command respect from the inmates. These officers are the line between the public and dangerous inmates, and we need to make sure they have the right tools to be successful.”
The second bill, passed Feb. 13, would create a family assessment response to help families cope with problems together while relieving stress on the overburdened foster care system.
House Bill 2289 would allow social workers to address issues with a family before removing children from a home. It will not preclude children from being protected from dangerous situations.
“This is the bill I have been dreaming about my entire legislative career,” said Walsh. “I want to see families stay together. Families have troubles, just like we all have troubles sometimes, and this legislation will readjust how the foster care system approaches struggling families. If we can address some of the basic needs that some of these families are struggling with, that is the best thing we can do to protect children and help parents do right by them. I am thrilled this legislation continues to move forward – it is the best thing we’ve done for this system in a long time.”
Both pieces of legislation now move to the Senate for further consideration. The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to adjourn March 8.
Listen to Rep. Walsh’s floor speech on the uniforms measure, House Bill 2346: (Time: 18)
Listen to Rep. Walsh’s floor speech on House Bill 2289, the foster care bill: (Time: 1:22)
For more information, contact: Sarah Stewart, Public Information Officer, (360) 786-7720