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Washington State Medal of Valor bill passes House

OLYMPIA, Wash., January 28, 2023—Representative Sam Low (R-Lake Stevens) passed his first bill in the House Chamber on Thursday, January 26. HB-1031: Modifying medal of valor award presentation requirements, makes it easier to honor everyday people who put their lives on the line to save another with the Washington State Medal of Valor, passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support — 93 yeas, 0 nays. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Sam Low

The Washington State Medal of Valor was created in 2000 after being passed in the 2019 legislative session. It recognizes civilians who save or try to save another’s life at the risk of serious injury or death to themselves. In 2015, the Legislature updated the law to make groups eligible in order to award the Medal of Valor to the communities of Oso, Arlington, Darrington, and the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe for their heroic rescue efforts during the 2014 Oso Landslide, that claimed the lives of 43 people.

Rep. Low’s bill would remove the requirement for the Washington State Medal of Valor to be presented during a Joint Session of the Legislature and it would remove the restriction of the governor’s authority to designate a presenter only when s/he is disabled or ill.

“People across the state do wonderful, great, and fantastic things,” said 39th Legislative District Representative Low. “But in rare instances there are people that go above and beyond at risk to their own lives to rescue the life of another. These people deserve to be recognized,”

The Washington State Medal of Valor has only been awarded 12 times since its creation — most recently in 2015.

“Removing the barriers to when the award can be presented and who can present the award will give more flexibility to the process and help to make sure people are recognized for their heroic efforts,” said Low.

Previous Washington State Medal of Valor winners

  • Jim Swett, Skagit County
  • Greg Meinhold, Snohomish County
  • Travis Jackson, Clark County
  • Dennis Kinsey, Clark County
  • Timothy Bourasaw, Snohomish County
  • Rick Bowers, Snohomish County
  • Edward Marsette, King County
  • Alana Schutt, Snohomish County
  • Community of Arlington
  • Community of Darrington
  • Community of Oso
  • The Sauk-Suiattle Tribe

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