Dear friends and neighbors,
This year’s 105-day legislative session came to an end on Sunday and to say it was a wild ride is an immense understatement. This session was record breaking in so many ways. We had more people testifying in committee from all across the state than any other session. We passed more legislation on party-line votes than any other session, and we ended with record breaking spending.
State v. Blake – legislature punts on drug possession
I recently shared background on the Washington State Supreme Court’s decision regarding State v. Blake and what the legislature was doing to address it. Unfortunately, much changed after this legislation left the Senate.
The bill was amended in three ways in the House. First, the House reduced the penalty from a Gross Misdemeanor to a simple Misdemeanor. Second, it took out the Senate provision requiring diversion for the first two charges and made it only an option for the offender. Finally, it put a two-year sunset on the law. This means that after two years, we would be required to revisit this law or return to the exact place we started when the Supreme Court ruling basically legalized drug possession via the Blake decision.
As we could not further amend the bill at that point in the process, we could only vote to accept the House amendments or not.
This was not an easy decision as neither option was particularly great. A vote for the bill really had no teeth as diversion would be optional. However, we would have a statewide standard which would eliminate confusion amongst counties. A vote against the bill would allow counties to enact their own ordinances regarding this action.
I chose to vote against this bill, which I previously supported, and allow counties to develop their own solutions. While this bill did pass, I believe we will see it again in the near future and that lawmakers must reexamine this issue to make sure we’re truly helping those who suffer from drug addiction.