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June 17, 2004

Message from the Governor

Yesterday I had the honor of visiting the Vashon Island Domestic Violence Center and meeting with its coordinators and community leaders. We discussed their successes and challenges in helping victims of domestic violence. The work of the Center and others like it in communities across our state is vitally important.

Back in March, we scored an important victory for domestic violence victims in our state. That day, I signed into law several public safety bills that will help prevent domestic violence, and protect victims when it occurs.

As illustrated in numerous cases across our state and the nation, domestic violence is found in every walk of life, every economic class, and every kind of relationship or family. Far too often, it is a concealed but deadly crime that comes to light only after it is too late.

The Vashon Island community decided to do something about it. For five years now, the Center has been helping families—some 30 to 40 families a year. The Center provides safety and shelter, and emergency assistance like food, clothing and transportation. It helps families with counseling and support, safety assessment and planning, agency referrals, and legal advocacy—including help in obtaining protective orders.

Quote of the Week
“Last year, 54 people died as a result of domestic violence in Washington. Between 1997 and 2002, there were 390 domestic violence deaths in our state. We know those deaths are just the tip of the iceberg.”
—Governor Locke, June 17, 2004

The Center has forged a great community partnership on Vashon Island, collaborating with schools, churches, the police, local doctors and counselors and human service agencies. I am very proud of what they are accomplishing to help victims of domestic violence. And I am proud of every community across our state that is confronting this crime and offering badly needed help to its victims and their families.

Washington state has some of the strongest laws in America against domestic violence. They include mandatory arrest, an expedited process for protective court orders, stiff penalties, and a confidential address registry for victims hiding from their abusers. We strengthened those laws four years ago, based on recommendations of the Domestic Violence Action Group. I appointed this task force in 1999 in response to the appalling experience of Linda David, who was abused by her state paid caregiver—her husband. We further strengthened those laws with the bills I signed in March.

We also added $2 million to the state budget this year for programs that provide shelter, advocacy and other help to victims of domestic violence. This is an increase of more than 50 percent in state funding. We hope to help our state’s anti-abuse programs respond to the nearly 35,000 requests for help we could not meet last year.

But even the strongest laws and unlimited funding will not prevent domestic violence or protect its victims. We must also be committed as a society to changing the values and attitudes in our culture that allow this violence to continue. We must each be willing to stand up for a culture that values and expects non-violence, diversity and equality.

As our 1999 task force emphasized: Preventing domestic violence is everybody’s business.

Gary Locke
Gary Locke

Governor’s Priorities
News Highlights

Mexico Mission to Promote Trade
Governor Locke will lead a trade mission to Mexico June 21-24 to promote two-way trade and tourism. Scheduled activities include a personal meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox. “Washington state and Mexico share a rich history of business, educational and cultural exchange, and we value Mexico as one of our leading trade partners,” the Governor said. “This mission will allow us to further solidify our trade ties with Mexico as well as develop opportunities for our state’s agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors.” Washington state exported $607 million in products to Mexico in 2003, an increase of 40 percent from the previous year. The Governor wants to encourage more exports of Washington goods to Mexico as well as work to make sure the state's products are not excluded due to tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

Supreme Court Order Supports Voter Choice
Governor Locke strongly commended a state Supreme Court order issued on June 10, which ensures that Washington will have an election system this year that provides voters with the greatest choices in the general election. In April, the Governor vetoed the sections of this year’s primary election bill enacting a Louisiana primary system, and signed the sections implementing a Montana-style system. The Washington State Grange filed suit to have the Governor’s partial veto declared unconstitutional. The court issued an order denying the Grange’s petition. “I thank the court for issuing their order so quickly,” the Governor said. “This will enable the Secretary of State and local elections officials to move forward in their preparations for the September 14 primary, confident about the type of system we will be using in our state.”

Preventing Wildfires
Wildfire and drought threats have not evaporated despite the rains that have fallen on most of Washington the past month. The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has already responded to 129 wildfires since March—70 in April alone. In a normal April, the department typically responds to about 20 wildfires. “More than 80 percent of the wildfires so far this year have been caused by humans,” Governor Locke said. “People need to be extremely careful and responsible with any activity that could trigger a wildfire, because they can be enormously destructive, expensive and deadly.” With conditions so dry, the governor also emphasized a need to be careful with fireworks during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. “I ask that people be safe and sane in their celebrations,” the Governor said. “Our forests and neighborhoods are no place for pyrotechnics. A simple mistake can be disastrous.”

Training Washington's Workforce
Governor Locke emphasized the importance of the state’s workforce training and retraining efforts June 15, citing results of the latest survey of Washington employers conducted by the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board. “These insights into what our employers need most are invaluable,” the Governor said. “They allow us to fine tune our workforce training efforts to get Washington workers the skills they need. I commend the Workforce Board’s continued commitment to addressing the changing workforce needs of our employers.” The survey found that, even in the midst of a recession, 45 percent of Washington state employers attempting to hire had difficulty finding qualified job applicants in 2003. Extrapolated from the survey results, the shortage affected some 56,000 employers in the state, negatively impacting their productivity, sales, quality and service. “The results of the survey emphatically underscore the critical link between economic development and education,” the Governor said. “We must ensure that our higher education and vocational programs are directed toward critical skill needs.”

Success Story: Veteran’s Affairs Director Joins National Board
John King, director of the state of Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, has been elected to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) board of directors for a three-year term beginning July 1. King joins a board of 16 executives and advocates from across the country who guide the efforts of NCHV, a national network of nearly 250 community-based organizations. These organizations provide emergency and supportive housing, food, health services, job training and placement assistance, legal aid and case management support for more than 150,000 homeless veterans each year. NCHV also serves as the primary liaison between care providers, Congress and the executive branch agencies.

Upcoming Events
6/21-24: Mexico Trade Mission
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