Rep. Graham advocates for ‘Lilly’s Law,’ creating scholarships for violent crime victims and their families

'We cannot ignore the victims and their family members who bear the brunt of loss, devastation, and oftentimes, economic ruin as a result of violent crime,' says Graham

As Washington state legislators begin preparations for the 60-day 2022 legislative session, which begins Monday, Jan. 10, one Spokane lawmaker wants to make it easier for victims of violent crime and their families to pursue post-secondary education.

Rep. Jenny Graham, R-Spokane, has sponsored House Bill 1584 to create a state-funded scholarship program for violent crime victims and their immediate families. The bipartisan bill, which Graham formally introduced at the end of the 2021 legislative session, is currently in the House College and Workforce Development Committee.

While her bill was not introduced in time to receive a public hearing last year, Graham is hoping the bipartisan nature and the growing awareness of the increase in violent crimes will compel the majority party in Olympia to grant her legislation a public hearing.

“Violent crime is increasing in our state and across the nation,” said Graham, whose sister was a victim of Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer. “Our communities and families are feeling the direct impacts of the failed policies promoted by the Defund the Police movement. We must – and will – address many of these policies this legislative session. But we cannot ignore the victims and their family members who bear the brunt of loss, devastation, and oftentimes, economic ruin as a result of violent crime.

“If the Legislature is going to pass laws that make it easier for violent criminals to commit their crimes, with little to no accountability, the Legislature should step up to the plate and fund the post-secondary education, including apprenticeships, for those whose fathers and mothers have been murdered,” said Graham.

In addition, Graham said she will sponsor an amendment to name the law “Lilly's Law” after a little girl whose mother, Kassie, was stabbed to death in a domestic violence incident in Spokane last spring. Lilly, who was 5 years old at the time, was left for dead with serious injuries but survived the attack.

It's situations like this, Graham said, that compelled her to write HB 1584.

“Lilly's mother was a single mom. She of course had friends and family in her life, but at the end of the day, she is no longer here to help Lilly pursue any dream she has of attending college, university, or apprenticeship program,” said Graham. “Our state currently has a multi-billion-dollar surplus. I think we have a duty to take care of the victims of violent crime and their immediate families.”

The 60-day 2022 legislative session will be similar to last year's session with committees and public testimony held remotely. Most legislators will not be in Olympia due to COVID-19 protocols.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov