Roberts appointed vice chair of public safety committee

Democratic state Rep. Mary Helen Roberts will be vice chairwoman of the state House Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in the new Legislature, while giving up the vice chairmanship of the Committee on Early Learning and Human Services. She will continue to serve on the Early Learning and Human Services Committee and the judiciary committee. In addition, she will serve on the rules committee, which decides which bills go to the house floor.

In her previous vice chairmanship, Roberts pushed for reform of the state foster-care system. She said that interest would continue.

“I have enjoyed being the vice chair of Early Learning and Human Services for the eight years that I have been in the Legislature,” she said Friday. “While I am not leaving the committee and intend to continue my efforts to improve our foster-care system, changes in leadership in several committees opened up new opportunities for me. I have always been interested in our criminal-justice system, particularly with our prisons. As the vice chair of the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee, I will be able to be more directly involved in issues of how we respond to crime, what we can do to prevent it and what is most effective in making our communities safe.”

The public safety committee’s jurisdiction includes prevention, penalties and sentencing for criminals.

Roberts said in December that the committee also is likely to consider implementation issues regarding Initiative 502, the voter-approved measure that legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

“We have an opportunity to develop a system for regulating and controling the sale and use of cannabis that could serve as a model for the nation,” Roberts said. “In my new role, I’ll work with community members, law enforcement and local officials to ensure we craft a thoughtful approach that respects the will of the voters.”

Roberts said, “My committee assignments reflect my goals of bringing smart and sensible reforms to our criminal justice system, protecting essential human services, and ensuring that state government runs as efficiently as possible,” Roberts said, adding, “I’m always open to new ideas. If you’ve got an idea about how to make things work better, feel free to call or e-mail me anytime.”

Roberts represents the 21st Legislative District, which includes most of Edmonds, north Lynnwood, all of Mukilteo and part of south Everett.

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com

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