Legislative Update: Saving Lives and Keeping Communities Safe & More

Dear friends and neighbors,

We are now nearly slightly more than one-quarter done with this year’s Legislative Session and I’d like to give you an update on what’s been happening since my last newsletter two weeks ago.

As you likely know, when I’m not here in Olympia working as your legislator, I am a social worker, mental health professional and small business owner. I am also a working mother. Family is important to me, and many of the bills I’m introducing this Legislative Session support youth and families. Plus, I have always stated that protecting our most vulnerable is one of the most important reasons I am here working on your behalf, and always will be.

Saving Lives and Keeping Communities Safe

I recently introduced HB 1613, which encourages treatment for possession of certain counterfeit drugs or controlled substances. It was first read on Jan. 26, and was referred to the Community Safety, Justice & Reentry Committee. HB 1613 is a proposal to address the Blake decision, the Feb. 2021 Washington State Supreme Court ruling that declared the state’s felony drug possession statute unconstitutional.

I decided to tackle this issue head on to save lives and keep our communities safe. I support rehabilitation and prioritize treatment over punishment, but when people refuse treatment, it isn’t right to leave them in their suffering and ignore the harm that it does to families and our communities. Click here to read my statement.

My Bills for Kids Are Advancing!

My first newsletter this Session mentioned some of the areas I’d be prioritizing and I’d like to provide you with an update on HB 1186 (a bill to expand our state’s child welfare housing assistance program) and HB 1386 (a bill to establish a youth development grant program).

HB 1186 was heard by the House Human Services, Youth & Early Learning Committee for the first time in mid-January, amended slightly to tighten reporting requirements, and then passed out of Committee in late January! It now will be heard by the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday afternoon.

HB 1386 had a public hearing in the House Human House Human Services, Youth & Early Learning Committee last week and will be heard in Executive Session in the House Human House Human Services, Youth & Early Learning Committee tomorrow. Click here to see my testimony from last week on why I introduced this bill and why it matters. Investing in our children is an investment in our future! For tomorrow’s session, you can catch a video recap on TVW to get the latest on this bill by clicking here to view.

Strengthening Our Communities

Tomorrow, public testimony will be heard on HB 1717, a bill I first introduced last week. This bill supports innovation at associate development organizations (ADOs). Our state’s 39 counties are each represented by an ADO that is charged with furthering the county’s economic development goals. This bill will require the Department of Commerce to establish an annual competitive grant program to support and catalyze initiatives to foster innovation, sustainability, partnerships, and equity at ADOs. Click here to learn more and watch the public testimony.

Revisiting Vehicular Pursuits

At the beginning of this year’s Session, I introduced HB 1363, which would help restore the ability of law enforcement to pursue suspects on reasonable suspicion, rather than probable cause. My bill still provides for strong restrictions on pursuits, and a common-sense balancing test: that the risks of not arresting the subject outweigh the risk of the pursuit itself.

This bill has received attention in the press—some positive support, yet some not in favor of what I am aiming to achieve. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, not everyone understands why this topic is important to me. Yet, this bill has bipartisan support. I want to work across the aisle to address the increase in violent crime in my community and across the state. Victims of crimes are our friends and neighbors, and when law enforcement cannot pursue those who commit crimes, our most vulnerable communities suffer the most. I wrote an op-ed for the Cascadia Daily News on this very bill and why it’s important to me. Click here to read it in its entirety. You can also see my testimony that I presented last week during public testimony to the House Community Safety, Justice & Reentry Committee by clicking here. This bill is now scheduled for executive session in the House Community Safety, Justice & Reentry Committee later this week and I’ll be sure to keep you updated on its progress.

Best wishes,