Knowlton victims’ crusade closes in on more counseling

SHB 1501 on Governor’s desk

Deana Knowlton QCH File Photo

OLYMPIA – A six-year campaign waged by trauma victim Deana Knowlton took a big step forward with the passage of SHB 1501 that was unanimously approved by the state Senate 49-0 on April 10. HB 1501 passed the House earlier on February 28 by a unanimous 97-0 vote.

The bill is now on Governor Inslee’s desk as of April 14 awaiting his signature.

It was the first time in six years that Knowlton has seen one of the crime victim bills she has supported make it this far in the legislative process.

SHB 1501 authorizes additional counseling services for immediate family members of homicide victims. Knowlton and her daughters Kari and Krysta are among those following the hit-and-run death of husband and father Gary Knowlton by a drunk driver on July 16, 2016.

Since that day that changed the course of her life forever, Knowlton has attended more than 270 counseling sessions to deal with the post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that she still experiences.

“I thought PTSD was only associated with the military,” said Knowlton in an earlier interview. “I never thought I would experience what I have.”

The current legislation authorizes only a dozen counseling sessions for crime trauma victims.

“They feel that 12 visits is a magic number that you’re going to be cured from any homicide trauma,” Knowlton said. “In my first three years I had 273 counseling sessions,”

HB 1501 was sponsored by 12th District State Representative Mike Steele and eight fellow legislators. Following the bill’s first reading last January 23 it was referred to the House
Committee on Community Safety, Justice & Reentry. A public hearing was scheduled for February 7, at which Knowlton was invited to testify for the first time on a piece of legislation she supported.

Recommended for passage, the bill was referred to the House Rules Committee on February 16. On Febtuary 28 the House passed the measure and the Senate took up the bill on for its first reading on March 2.

Knowlton testified in support of the bill a second time on March 13 before the Senate Committee on Human Services. The bill  once again worked its way through Rules and readings before passage by the Senate on April 10.

While Knowlton acknowledged that the Governor’s signature is the final formal action for the bill to become law, her work continues to support more measures to help families victimized by crime. She said she understands the process better now as well as the patience required to enact change.

“I’m going to keep fighting,” said Knowlton.



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