House debate begins

By: - May 16, 2023 1:46 pm

House debate kicks off with supporters of the bill saying the current version strikes a balance between accountability and treatment. 

Rep. Roger Goodman, chair of the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee, called the situation currently “a mess.” 

“This is 50 years of active failure of drug policy,” he said, describing the new bill as a path forward. 

Rep. Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, said the new version is better than any other draft that’s come before the Legislature. 

“The work really begins today,” he said.

Democrat Rep. Gerry Pollet, of Seattle, said he would switch his vote to “no,” despite voting in favor of the bill twice before. 

In his floor speech, he expressed concerns with the requirement that prosecutors have to agree to pretrial diversion to get treatment for offenders. 

Giving the discretion of who can get treatment to prosecutors will most negatively affect people of color, Pollet said. 

 “We will be watching you,” he said, urging the Legislature to come back and add strict guidance for prosecutors when making these decisions.

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Laurel Demkovich
Laurel Demkovich

Laurel joined States Newsroom in 2023 after almost three years as a statehouse reporter for the Spokesman-Review. She covers state government, the Legislature and all other Olympia news.