Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The final weeks of the 2019 regular session are upon us. We've concluded our final committee hearings as we've reached policy and fiscal cutoff for the bills that came to the House from the Senate. We're now back on the floor voting on these bills for the remainder of session.
Most of the conversation lately surrounds the three main state budgets (operating, transportation and capital), and how they will shape up as budget writers from both the House and Senate begin the negotiation process to write the final products. Session is scheduled to adjourn on April 28.
The budgets are a key piece of this 105-day session. However, there are other important issues on the table where work continues behind the scenes.
A key issue is the out-of-control heroin and opioid epidemic across the state. The Legislature forges ahead with time, resources, and money flowing toward the homeless problem, with the mentality this approach will naturally combat the drug addiction problem as well. Financial handouts are treating the symptom, not the cause.
We need to look at the holistic approach to this crisis. The problem is more than opioid use. With new regulations and reforms in place on prescription drugs and pills, we're seeing a decrease in opioid abuse, but a subsequent increase in heroin use.
Drugs continue to be decriminalized when you think of safe injection sites, law enforcements lack of resources to combat these drugs on the streets, and the challenges facing prosecuting attorneys to charge drug dealers when necessary.
There are several bills still alive in the legislative process that begin to pave the pathway forward in bringing real solutions to this massive issue.
- My colleague, Rep. Andrew Barkis, R-Olympia, brought forward a proviso to the House operating budget that would provide much needed grant funding to local jurisdictions so law enforcement have the tools and resources they need to combat heroin on the streets. His amendment was accepted. I hope it's not removed during the final stages of budget negotiations. He will also be introducing a bill in the near future to expand on this budget proviso. I will keep you posted as this bill rolls out.
- My colleague across the aisle, Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline, has brought forward two bills to give addicts access to critical and potential life-saving recovery services through House Bills 1528 and 1907.
We continue to put all the puzzle pieces on the table. We're beginning to take the first steps to fitting the pieces together. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we've got to start somewhere.
It's an honor to serve you.