It’s a new session of the state Legislature in Olympia, and so far it looks like there’s widespread agreement about one pressing issue. Dan Frizzell from the Washington State House Democratic Caucus has more:
CHOPP: “It’s going to be a top priority and bipartisan. I’m really happy. This is great.”
Speaker of the House Frank Chopp doesn’t say much in public, but he’s talking a lot now that there seems to be a commitment by both parties to focus hard on a growing Washington crisis. The state’s largest mental hospital has been decertified, local facilities are swamped, and treatment budgets at every level are strained past the breaking point.
Chopp, the long-serving Democrat who’s announced this will be his last year as Speaker, wants coordinated efforts to deal with mental and behavioral health, substance abuse, and homelessness, which are seen more and more as intertwined strands of the same crisis. He says he’ll be putting much of his own energy into housing, the issue that propelled him into the Legislature 25 years ago.
CHOPP: “It’s one thing to treat somebody if they have a substance-use disorder or a mental illness, and if they have nowhere to go . . . they die on the street. That’s what it boils down to. We need solutions not just at the legislative level but throughout the state, in local communities, with state support.”
Lawmakers kicked off their 2019 session Monday, with a scheduled end-date in 105 days. In Olympia, I’m Dan Frizzell.