Thursday, April 18, 2024

Knowlton delivers second testimony on trauma victims bill

Closer to passage


OLYMPIA – For the second time this year. Twisp resident Deana Knowlton has appeared before a state Legislative committee to testify in support of a bill that would provide more professional counseling for trauma victims like herself.

Knowlton lost her husband, Gary, a Brewster teacher and pool lifeguard, to a drunk driver in 2016 and has been lobbying ever since for legislative reforms to stiffen penalties for offenders and provide more help to crime victims.

Six years after her tragic loss Knowlton finally witnessed a bill that survived the legislative process long enough to offer her the opportunity to testify before a House committee. That was on February 7, when House Bill 1501 appeared on the House Committee on Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry public hearing docket.

It was the first time Knowlton saw a bill she supported get that far.

“All the previous bills were shot down,” Knowlton told The Quad at the time.

Knowlton testified in support of the bill introduced by 12th District State Representative Mike Steele. The bill authorizes additional counseling services for immediate family members of homicide victims.

Currently victims are offered 12 counseling visits to help them cope with their trauma. In Knowlton’s case she visited a counselor 273 times in the first three years following the loss of her husband. And she is not done yet.

“I’m not where I was six years ago,” said Knowlton, “I’m better, but I’m not quite there.”

Knowlton’s March 13 testimony before the Senate Committee on Human Services may help push the bill over the line. She said she reminded the members that she is working to prevent what happened to her family from happening to someone else – including those listening to her testimony. The bill without any further amendments passed to the Senate Rules Committee on March 23 for a second reading.

House Speaker Laurie Jinkins told Knowlton that she is optimistic about the bill’s prospects and that it will reach the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Knowlton said she has learned a lot about the legal process and is determined to continue the slow, frustrating road to change for victims’ rights.

As she earlier told her daughters Kari and Krysta: “If the roles were reversed, Gary would do the same thing,”



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