Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As I mentioned in last week's update, the state Supreme Court recently ruled against our state's felony drug possession law (including drugs like heroin, meth and fentanyl). This flawed and activist type ruling from the court is troubling. It has the potential to let thousands of drug users back out onto our streets or into a judicial system that is not equipped to handle such a huge influx of cases at once.
Despite knowing of this ruling for several weeks, the majority party in Olympia has shown little desire to address this serious public safety issue. I joined with my House Republican colleagues this week in presenting a legislative package that will fix the court's ruling, provide assistance to substance abuse users who want it, and protect our children from engaging in drugs in the first place:
- 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 (mens rea) 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.
I've heard from law enforcement in our area that are very concerned about this ruling and what it means for our communities. We must fix this through legislative action this session. We lose a powerful deterrent for our young people if arrests for possession cannot be made. In addition, many former drug users have come forward to tell us that their journey to get off addictive drugs began with an arrest.
As a reminder, you can testify remotely on legislation in the House. To help you through that process, we created a short video here. Take a look. It's fairly easy to do, and we certainly need your continued input.
It's budget week in the Legislature
This week, we were briefed on several budgets, including the Transportation budget and the Capital – or construction – budget. Both the House and Senate Democrats have released their Operating budgets as well. Unfortunately, even though our state is collecting more tax dollars than ever and has ample funds comping from the federal government, both Democrat budgets rely on a capital gains income tax. As I mentioned in last week's update, this is unnecessary, unreliable, and likely unconstitutional.
Horse Heaven Wind Project – what do you think?
Scout Clean Energy is seeking permission for a wind energy project that could put up to 244 turbines around the Horse Heaven Hills area in Benton County. The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce is doing a public opinion survey of the project to gather more information. If you'd like to participate in the online survey, click here.
With about a month left in the remote 2021 legislative session, there is still much to be done. If you have questions or concerns about legislative issues, please don't hesitate to contact my office. We're here to help. Also, stay tuned for an announcement about a ZOOM townhall meeting I will be hosting for constituents with my seatmate, Rep. Mary Dye.