Washington’s ‘bias incident hotline’ is gaining momentum. This hotline could be used to pay tax money to alleged victims.

Advocates of a Washington state bill that would establish a hate crime hotline and compensate some victims is gaining momentum after if failed in the state Senate.

In the hope that it will pass the next legislative session, momentum is building for a failed Washington state bill which would create a hate crime hotline to compensate victims of such crimes and gain support.

Senate Bill 5427 was defeated in the state Senate’s Ways and Means Committee. Last month, critics called the bill a “tattletale hotline” and said that compensating victims would open up “wide open” possibilities for people to “cash-in.”

“Spend five seconds on Twitter any day and I guarantee someone would say something offensive according to this law and we could call it a ‘hate offense’ and collect $2,000 the attorney general,” Julie Barrett (founder and president of Conservative Ladies of Washington), told the Senate Ways and Means Committee during a February 20 public hearing. Center Square reported last month.

“It could target people for actions that they don’t like, but aren’t actually hate crimes. This bill, along with HB 1333 would create a ‘tattletale phone’ that allows one to report anyone who doesn’t agree or dislikes it. If passed, HB 1333 would create a commission on domestic violence extremism in Washington.


Seattle (Reuters / Chris Helgren / File)

Senate Bill 5427 would create a hotline for victims of hate crimes or bias incidents through the state attorney general’s offices. The Seattle Times reported that the hotline would collect reports from callers and “provide crisis intervention and information to local services, as well as work with victims and police.”

Washington legislators approved a new category of hate crime in 2019. This defines a crime as one where a perpetrator deliberately or maliciously causes physical injury to another person on the basis of race, sex and sexual orientation.

img alt=”A gay pride parader holds a rainbow flag.” src=”https://a57.foxnews.com/static.foxnews.com/foxnews.com/content/uploads/2022/08/640/320/flag-pride.png?ve=1&tl=1″/>

A person holds a Rainbow Flag during a Gay Pride Parade. (Reuters / Axel Schmidt / FILE)

Bias incidents are hostile expressions or animus towards a person due to their race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or other factors. The Seattle Times reported that bias incidents are not criminal acts.

According to the bill, employees of the program could also assess victims’ claims in order to determine if they are eligible for compensation “up to $2,000 per person affected by a specific hatred crime or bias incident.”

Senate Bill 5427 was supported in part by the Anti-Defamation League and Urban League. However, it was unable to move forward after Democrat lawmakers decided that funding existing programs rather than a new program was a better priority.


A representative of the Anti-Defamation League stated to the Seattle Times that “We need an inventive response.” “We don’t have any data about bias incidents in Washington right now.”

At the hearing on February 20, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs stated that the bill could “blur these lines” regarding whether law enforcement groups or police respond to calls. This could cause confusion for victims.

The outlet was told by advocates of the bill that they are working hard to pass the legislation in the next legislative session.

Javier Valdez (Democratic state Senator) sponsored the bill. He cited an incident in 2021 where an intruder destroyed a Sikh cultural centre, taking items and destroying a prayer hall.

Valdez stated that stories like these are important and should be told in order to inform how we deal with hate in our communities.


At the February 20 hearing, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs stated that the bill could “blur these lines” regarding whether law enforcement agencies or police respond to calls. This could cause confusion for victims.

He said, “We need a method to report and discuss such incidents, and the victim deserves appropriate crisis intervention,” and called the crime “a targeted attack against the culture and religion of the center.”

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The bill is named after an Oregon program that was launched in 2020. According to the Seattle Times, the hotline was initially funded with $43,000 in 2020. Then lawmakers increased the budget to $2,000,000 and hired more staff. There is also a $2,000 limit on victims’ compensation.

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