Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After being in session since Jan. 9, we adjourned at 10 p.m., Sunday night, the scheduled end of the 105-day session. It has been an honor to serve you and be your voice at the state Capitol in Olympia for these past 15 weeks. As I prepare to return home, I wanted to provide a quick email update.
Six Mosbrucker bills gain legislative approval, sent to the governor
I’m excited to report that with the exceptional work of my staff, six bills I authored have cleared both the House and Senate and are on their way to the governor for his signature. Most of these bills passed both chambers unanimously with bipartisan support.
- House Bill 1114 – Sentencing Guidelines Commission – The bipartisan-sponsored measure expands the state’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission by five members. This makes sure voices such as the tribes and academia are at the table and not left out of important conversations. Passed the Senate unanimously.
- House Bill 1117 – Power supply inadequacy – The measure would ensure the state continually addresses plans to help avoid energy blackouts, brownouts, or other inadequacies of the electric grid.
- House Bill 1171 – Motorcycle Safety Board – The bill will add two certified motorcycle riders to represent motorcycle safety instructors, one from the east side of the Cascade mountain range and one from the west, to Washington’s Motorcycle Safety Education Advisory Board. SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR THURSDAY. Read my press release.
- House Bill 1512 – MMIWP and Lucian Act – The bill is recommended by the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIWP) Task Force and the Office of the Attorney General. It would provide resources for immediate actions that need to take place when a person vanishes. The bill recognizes missing and murdered indigenous people, an issue I first brought to the forefront in 2018 legislation. It is also named after four-year-old Lucian Munguia, who was reported missing on Sept. 10 from Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima and drowned in the Yakima River. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Lucian and his family.
- House Bill 1564 – DIY home sexual assault rape kits – The bill would prohibit the sale and distribution of do-it-yourself at-home rape kits. These kits give false hope to victims/survivors of prosecution for the perpetrators. Many states have sent “cease and desist” warning letters to these companies for unlawful business practices. No business should profit off of trauma. Washington does not charge victims who are raped.
- House Bill 1779 – Carbon monoxide poisoning – (also known as “Mary’s Law). The measure would convene a state interagency carbon monoxide work group to investigate how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. The bill was brought to me by a constituent who suffered long-term health effects from breathing carbon monoxide through the vents of her vehicle.
Get more information
- Read the details and my comments about these bills in this news release.
- Watch my Legislative Video Update
Senate agrees to House amendments on police pursuit, sends bill to governor
Likely one of the most important and most controversial bills of the 2023 session was the police pursuit legislation. In 2021, the Legislature enacted a new law that toughened the requirements for officer pursuit. Under that law, officers need probable cause to arrest someone before initiating a pursuit rather than reasonable suspicion. This emboldened suspected criminals to flee crime scenes before law enforcement could question them.
In January, Republican Rep. Eric Robertson and Democratic Rep. Alicia Rule united behind bipartisan legislation, House Bill 1363, to restore the reasonable suspicion standard. Read the press release here. The bill did not advance from the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee before the cutoff. However, a Senate companion measure, Senate Bill 5352, passed the Senate and was amended in the House committee with language limiting police pursuits under the reasonable suspicion standard. The amended version would allow police pursuits under the reasonable suspicion standard of those suspected of committing a violent crime, a sex offense, domestic violence-related offenses, vehicle assault, driving under the influence, and trying to escape arrest.
It doesn’t fully restore the law before 2021, but it is better than we have now. My law enforcement stakeholder group asked for a yes vote and asked that we continue to add more crimes that allow the ability to pursue. In the end, I voted yes. The bill passed the House 57-40 just after midnight on April 12. Read more from my press release.
The Senate concurred with the amendments, so the bill is now heading to the governor for his signature.
After the House vote, I was interviewed on several radio stations. You can listen to those interviews below:
- Ari Hoffman – KVI, Seattle
- Jason Rantz – KTTH – Seattle
- Mark Bailey – KIHR, Hood River, OR
- Listen to the House Republican radio report
Legislature struggles on Blake drug possession “fix;” Last-minute attempt fails on House floor
In February 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in “State v. Blake” that the state’s felony drug possession law was unconstitutional. Under that ruling, all criminal penalties for drug possession were removed, and convictions were vacated and dismissed by an order from the court.
That same year, the Legislature voted to penalize drug possession charges with a misdemeanor and mandated two pre-arrest referrals for substance abuse by law enforcement before an arrest. That law, however, expires on July 1.
Since the 2021 ruling, we’ve seen a skyrocketing spike in drug use on the streets and in neighborhoods across the state, with addicts shooting up in plain sight. There’s been a heartbreaking increase in overdoses and deaths. And it’s become such a frequent problem, Narcan vending machines are becoming available in many high-traffic areas of our state.
Coming into this legislative session, I felt we needed to provide comprehensive and meaningful legislation that would hold people accountable for their drug use and get them the treatment they need. What emerged during the session was Senate Bill 5536.
The original Senate bill would have increased drug possession penalties to a gross misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a fine up to $5,000, and extended the statute of limitations to two years instead of one. When it came to the House, the bill that left committee was amended by the majority party to the lesser penalty of a misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 90 days and a fine of $1,000. House Republicans joined with me in voting against the bill when it came to the floor on April 11, noting that it leaves more questions than answers. It passed the House on a near party-line vote, 54-41. But the Senate refused to concur to the House amendments, so a conference committee was appointed. I was one of six lawmakers to serve on that committee.
As we got to the final days, we were told we had an agreement with three of the four caucuses. But that agreement fell apart on Saturday. House Democrats brought up their version, which they knew didn’t even have enough votes in their own caucus.
Some major concerns:
- The weak diversion/treatment plan would not require completion certificates, and the state certification would likely set up those addicted for failure. Washington can do better!
- State preemption of drug paraphernalia.
- Mixing of individuals in recovery and those actively using.
- Establishes Health Engagement Hubs that are to be open to both children and adults and affiliated with safe consumption sites.
- No requirement for public notice for siting of opioid treatment facilities.
The bill was brought to the floor in the final hours of the 2023 session on Sunday evening. It failed, with 15 Democrats joining House Republicans in voting no. Let’s be clear that we never told House Democrats we had the votes to pass this bill. Plus, we were briefed that the Senate Republicans did not have yes votes for this version of the bill either.
This means when the 2021 law expires on July 1, cities and counties will have the option of imposing their own penalties for drug possession. I had hoped we would have had a state fix, and there’s still a path forward if we can all come to the table — all FOUR caucuses — to fully listen and solve this Washington crisis.
- Read my statement on the failure of the Blake bill
- Learn more about the issue from TVW’s Washington to Washington – The Blake Decision
- Listen to my interview on KONA Radio on April 24.
Budgets and more
The last spending plan to be approved was the two-year state operating budget. The $68.8 billion budget passed Sunday night along party lines, with Republicans voting no. We were concerned about several components, including the level of increased spending, the lack of transparency and accountability, the fact that it leaves a very small ending fund balance, and provides no tax relief.
A $9 billion capital construction budget passed the House on Friday. It includes $92.4 million for projects in the 14th District. Some of the more notable 14th District capital budget projects include: $14.2 million for behavioral health community grants, $10.5 million for Department of Ecology remedial action grants, $12.5 million for the Washington Wildlife Recreation Program, $8.1 million for small district and tribal compact schools modernization, and $1.4 million for courthouse rehabilitation.
The House approved a $13.5 billion transportation budget, including nearly $110 million for the 14th District. Notable 14th District projects to receive funding include: $49 million for the Connecting Washington East-West Corridor overpass and bridge, $19.2 million for the SR 14/Bingen underpass; $15 million for the Hood River/White Salmon bridge project; $14.5 million for repair of the SR 241/Mabton bridge, and money for the Skamania County Senior Services transportation and Yakima Transit. I voted for this budget and the capital budget.
An honor to serve and represent you!
It truly is the greatest honor of my life to be able to serve and represent our beautiful 14th District. Although the Legislature’s business is soon coming to a close in Olympia, please remember that I work for you throughout the year. If you have a problem with state government, a question or suggestion about legislation, please call my Olympia office. I really do want to hear from you!
Also, as I return from Olympia, I hope to get out into the district and meet with as many people as possible. That includes the possibility of future in-person town hall meetings. We are working on that now, so be sure to watch my website for more details: RepresentativeGinaMosbrucker.com.
Thank you for allowing me to serve and represent you!
Honored to serve you,