House Republicans write to Governor Inslee expressing their worries about Blake Fix – Washington state House Republicans wrote to Gov. Jay Inslee expressing their worries over any legislative solution to a state Supreme Court decision that decriminalized drugs. To pass such a bill, a special session would need to be summoned. Senate Bill 5536 failed to pass at the close of the 105-day regular session, and the Saturday letter lists several concerns: “Although the bill would make drug possession a gross misdemeanor on paper, the jail diversion process proposed in the bill would lead to a revolving door of offenses in practice.
A 12-month diversion with a six-month review hearing and prosecutorial involvement was requested. This ensures that people who comply with treatment and diversion remain eligible after six months. Support for non-compliant individuals would be provided. We think this would balance compassion and accountability. “The bill would preempt local communities’ drug paraphernalia regulations, including needle exchange locations. We think local communities should have more autonomy and flexibility.
The law would build recovery apartments in local communities that mix people seeking treatment and sobriety with those who use. We opposed this policy and requested more separation and priority for recovering patients. Children and adults involved with syringe assistance programs and consumption locations would have health engagement hubs under the measure. When minors are present, we requested state notification and involvement. Opioid treatment centers in local areas would not need public notification under the law. We requested mandatory public notice.”
Sen. Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, received copies of the letter. Billig and Jinkins did not respond to the Center Square’s letter request. However, the governor’s office appeared hopeful. On Monday, Inslee’s spokeswoman Mike Faulk emailed The Center Square, “We think negotiations are making good progress.” “Earlier today, the governor said he expects to announce a special session date soon.” In February 2021, the state Supreme Court overturned the felony possession of a controlled substance law. The provision permitted persons to be convicted of possession even if they didn’t know they had narcotics, thus the court deemed it illegal.
In Shannon Blake’s situation, a buddy gave her jeans. A little bag of methamphetamine was in the jeans pocket. In April 2021, the state Supreme Court denied the state’s plea to revisit the verdict. Drug possession became a misdemeanor under Senate Bill 5476 later that month. First and second-time convictions from before the ruling would be annulled in retrial and defendants assigned to treatment programs under the plan. Inslee signed SB 5476 into law the next month, vetoing a provision that would have created a state fund to reimburse local governments and individuals for legal expenditures incurred from resentencing under the court’s judgment.