Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Earlier this year, the Washington state Supreme Court struck down the state's felony drug possession law. Known as the Blake decision, this now means that individuals across the state (including children) can possess drugs – even hardcore drugs like heroin, meth and fentanyl – and law enforcement cannot arrest them. This is especially disturbing as the “defund the police” movement continues to make our communities less safe, crime continues to skyrocket, and law enforcement per capita in Washington state continues to be the lowest in the nation.
Additionally, it casts into doubt thousands of felony drug possession convictions across the state, potentially leading to thousands of individuals released either onto our streets or into a judicial system that is not designed to handle such a huge influx of cases.
While we've known of this court decision for over a month, we've seen no movement from the majority party to address these drastic consequences. As such, I've joined with my House Republican colleagues in proposing several pieces of legislation that will bring some balance, common sense, accountability, and predictability back into our state's drug laws:
- House Bill 1558 would promote recovery and improve public safety by providing behavioral health system responses to individuals with substance use disorder and providing training to law enforcement personnel.
- House Bill 1559 would provide a behavioral health response to juveniles consuming controlled substances.
- House Bill 1560 would consider the mental state element of a person's intention to knowingly commit a crime involving offenses related to possession of substances.
- House Bill 1561 would expand offenses and penalties for manufacture, sale, distribution, and other conduct involving controlled substances and counterfeit substances.
- House Bill 1562 would allow local governments to enact laws and ordinances relating to possession of controlled substances and counterfeit substances.
As our local law enforcement and county prosecutors continue to ask questions about this court ruling and the ramifications, it is very apparent that doing nothing is not an option. We must respond to this court ruling. This is exactly why we have three separate branches of government. We – the Legislature – now have the ability to strengthen and clarify the language in state law to meet the court's expectations.
This is budget week in the Legislature, with the transportation budget, the capital budget, and the operating budget all expected to pass the House in the next few days. In my last update to you, I talked about the updated revenue forecast and how, with so much money coming in from state taxpayers and the federal stimulus package, there was absolutely no need to raise taxes. Yet, the House Democrat budget proposes to do just that.
While there are some good things in their budget proposal, like wildfire and forest health funding, the Democrat plan increases spending at an alarming and unsustainable rate (12.8%). Have you and your family seen a 12% increase in your take-home pay in the last two years?
Their budget also uses some substantial gimmicks and violates the spirit of the rainy day fund, which normally requires a two-thirds legislative vote to spend. Overall, I believe their budget is unsustainable and sets us up for tax increases (like the income tax on capital gains) or serious program cuts down the road.
Second Amendment update
While the majority of bad gun bills didn't pass this session, I wanted to let you know of a bill that did pass, despite a floor fight last weekend that lasted hours. You can watch a few minutes of our highlighted floor speeches here.
Senate Bill 5038 – which I voted against – would ban “open carry” at the state Capitol Campus and within 250 feet of permitted rallies. I believe our state and federal constitutions are very clear on this issue. This bill is very vague, probably impossible to enforce during rallies, and certainly unconstitutional.
Continue to stay involved
This has been a unique legislative session. With ZOOM conference calls, TEAMS meetings, and remote committee meetings and floor sessions. Again, this is not what I wanted or envisioned when the session began.
But, through it all, you continue to amaze me at you've adapted and stayed involved in the legislative process. I know many of you have testified remotely on legislation. Thank you! Your involvement helps me serve you better. As we head into these last few weeks of the session, please continue to contact my office with your questions or concerns about state government issues.