State House Republicans have introduced a package of legislation to address a recent Washington Supreme Court decision that ruled the state’s drug possession law is unconstitutional. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast reports.
SATTGAST: Representative Gina Mosbrucker, ranking Republican on the House Public Safety Committee, says the decision is retroactive and could affect thousands of convictions going back 50 years. She and other Republicans on the Public Safety Committee introduced five bills Monday to help counter fallout from the ruling.
MOSBRUCKER: “It’s never okay to do nothing. We shouldn’t be able to see a child in danger on the street and just walk away and not give law enforcement the ability to make sure that they can help them get the help they need.”
SATTGAST: Proposed legislation would increase behavioral health system responses to individuals on drugs, help youth with substance abuse problems, allow local governments to enact laws and ordinances relating to possession of controlled substances, and expand offenses and penalties for manufacture, sale and distribution of hard drugs.
MOSBRUCKER: “This is a matter of saving lives.”
SATTGAST: The court overturned the law because people could be convicted of drug possession, even if they didn’t know they were carrying. One measure would criminalize possession by inserting the word “knowingly” into the law.
Although legislative deadlines have passed, Mosbrucker says lawmakers must act now.
MOSBRUCKER: “We’re asking that it’s a priority and we’re also reminding everyone that if we are not safe, then nothing else matters.”
SATTGAST: John Sattgast, the state Capitol.