2023 Washington Legislature, Day 1 of 105
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OLYMPIA, Jan. 9. 2023 — Welcome to Opening Day of the 2023 Legislature.
Except, of course, when they’re in caucus. Which we know will happen a lot.
And, in the case of some members, when they send emails. A few have been asserting “legislative privilege” and redacting content of correspondences with colleagues. Not a good look. We’ll have time to delve deeper into this.
Activities formally kick off at noon. Ahead of that, state troopers and a bomb-sniffing dog did a walk-through and gave the all-clear.
Re-election of House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, should take less than 15 minutes, not 15 votes.
Then she, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane along with House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, and Senate Minority Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, may make comments. Like word clouds? You can start filling one up with housing, homelessness, public safety, abortion rights, education, taxes, climate and democracy.
Three things to watch
At 4 p.m. Monday, Pierce County leaders will tell the House Transportation Committee why they don’t want a new commercial airport in the county. And why the idea of constructing one near the rural communities of Graham and Roy is a bad idea.
At 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee will deliver his State of the State Address to a joint session of the Legislature. In 2022, he did it remotely to a handful of folks, each of whom were masked and tested negative for COVID-19. Check out what he said.
At 11 a.m. Wednesday, Chief Justice Steven Gonzalez of the Washington Supreme Court will give his State of the Judiciary speech. He’ll likely talk about a backlog of cases in lower courts, a need for technology improvements, and a concern about the security of judges.
Is this the Blake fix?
A path for retooling drug possession laws may lie in legislation chiseled together by Sen. June Robinson, D-Everett. I’ve seen a draft. It would increase the penalty for possession to a gross misdemeanor — it’s now a misdemeanor. It would encourage, rather than require, cops to direct someone to services rather than arrest them.
Officers could arrest a person without referring them to treatment. That person could avoid prosecution, however, if they agree to enter a diversion program. This is the stick-and-carrot law enforcement say is needed right now. Under her bill, a person could get a conviction for simple drug possession vacated by completing treatment. Her proposal also aims to make it easier to open treatment facilities around the state by making it a little harder for cities and counties to say no.
“I am introducing a bill that I think is comprehensive and strikes the right balance, and a lot of people are going to have a lot of opinions,” Robinson told me recently. “This is going to get beat up and negotiated a million times before the last day of session.”
That is 105 days from now if you are wondering.
Nonprofit TVW covers state government in Olympia and selected events statewide. Programs are available for replay on the internet, and the channel is widely available on Washington cable systems.
Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Everett Herald) | Tom Banse (NW News Network) | Jim Brunner (Seattle Times) | Laurel Demkovich (Spokesman-Review) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Crosscut) | Melissa Santos (Axios) | Shauna Sowersby (McClatchy newspapers) | Claire Withycombe (Times)