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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this email finds you and your family well! I want to begin this update by thanking everyone who joined Rep. Drew Stokesbary and me for town halls in Enumclaw and Sumner on Saturday, March 11. Your thoughts, concerns, and questions are what drive my work on your behalf in Olympia.

I also want to thank everyone who took the time to complete my quick survey. Your input is invaluable. Here are the results.

What do you believe is the top priority the Legislature should address during the 2023 session? (The responses are in order from the most important to the least important.)

  1. Crime and feeling safe in my community
  2. Inflation and affordability of life
  3. Property tax relief
  4. K-12 education
  5. Homelessness and housing
  6. Mental health services
  7. Health care access and affordability
  8. Airport siting in Pierce County
  9. Restricting access to firearms
  10. Finding a job where I live
  11. Protecting the environment

If you could not attend the town halls or take the survey but have a question or comment, please contact me. You can find my contact information at the bottom of this email.

Video update

In my latest video update, I discuss local projects I’m working on with community members, including funding for Hwy 162 projects and the LRA (less restrictive alternative) housing in Enumclaw. I also talk about what’s next on our calendar at this stage of the 2023 legislative session. Click here to watch my video update or on the photo below.

Policy updates

Last week, we reached what’s known as house of origin cutoff. This means bills introduced this session that advanced out of committee needed to pass out of their original chamber, or they’re considered “dead” for this legislative session. This deadline did not include bills necessary to implement the three state budgets – operating, capital, and transportation.

The House of Representatives passed 329 bills. Seventy-seven of those bills were sponsored by House Republicans.

You can find a comprehensive list of good and bad bills by clicking here.

I want to take this opportunity to update you on the status of legislation I have sponsored in 2023. You can find more information on the bills I’ve sponsored and co-sponsored by clicking here.

  • House Bill 1053 – Concerning vehicular pursuits. This bill never made it to the House Committee on Community Safety, Justice and Reentry; however, it was reimagined as House Bill 1363.
  • House Bill 1083 – Concerning terms of payment for cannabis retailers. The House Committee on Regulated Substances and Gaming heard this bill. It didn’t advance out of committee and will not be considered this session.
  • House Bill 1237 – Redistributing the vehicle identification number inspection fee. This bill passed the House chamber unanimously (with a vote of 98-0). It’ll be heard in the Senate Committee on Transportation on Thursday, March 23, at 4:00 p.m.
  • House Bill 1457 – Concerning a motor carrier’s ability to access restroom facilities required by rules authorized under Chapter 49.17 RCW. This bill passed the House chamber unanimously (with a vote of 96-0-2). It’ll be heard in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday, March 21, at 4:00 p.m.
  • House Bill 1514 – Addressing the purchase and distribution of insignia to manufacturers of recreational vehicles and/or park trailers. This bill passed the House chamber unanimously (with a vote of 95-0-3). It was heard in the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce on Thursday, March 16. It was passed out of this committee on Monday, March 20. I hope it reaches the full Senate chamber for debate and a final vote.

Public safety update

Since public safety is one of our district’s top priorities this session, I’d like to provide an update on a few policies.

Let’s start with vehicular pursuit.

On March 7, I brought a procedural motion to the House Floor, asking the Speaker of the House to bring House Bill 1363 directly out of the House Rules Committee to the House Floor for an immediate full debate and vote. Unfortunately, my motion was denied. It’s frustrating and disappointing that public safety is not a higher priority in the House of Representatives. You can watch the procedural motion here or by clicking on the photo below.

Luckily, on March 8, the Senate chamber also made a procedural motion to bring bipartisan Senate Bill 5352 (the companion bill to our House Bill 1363) to the floor for a full debate and vote. Their motion was granted, and a modified version of the bill passed the Senate chamber.

This bill is now back in the hands of the House Committee on Community Safety, Justice and Reentry. As of this update, it has not been scheduled for a public hearing yet. I hope the chairman of this committee does the right thing and keeps this bill moving through the Legislative process. I believe this is the most important legislation of the 2023 session.

We cannot end session and leave Olympia in a few weeks without giving our law enforcement professionals back the tool of reasonable suspicion – even if it’s a modified and watered-down definition.

Another critical policy the Legislature needs to address in this session is the Blake decision on simple possession of hard drugs. On July 1, 2023, the Washington State Supreme Court decision – known as Blake – is set to expire. If the Legislature doesn’t act, drugs in Washington state would become decriminalized, and we will be left without any drug possession law.

There were five bills introduced this session to tackle this issue. The first four bills listed below didn’t make it past house of origin cutoff and won’t be considered this session.

  • House Bill 1415 (sponsored by Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber) would make knowing possession a gross misdemeanor.
  • Senate Bill 5624 (sponsored by Sen. Manka Dhingra) would implement the recommendations of the substance use recovery services advisory committee, including decriminalizing personal amounts of all drugs, including counterfeit fentanyl.
  • Senate Bill 5467 (sponsored by Sen. Jesse Salomon) would make possession of personal use drugs a gross misdemeanor and would require courts to vacate convictions for personal possession if mandatory treatment is completed.
  • Senate Bill 5035 (sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden) would make possession of counterfeit substances, such as fentanyl, a Class C felony and would repeal the treatment referral requirement.
  • Senate Bill 5536 (sponsored by Sen. June Robinson) would make knowing possession a gross misdemeanor, would create a pre-trial diversion program for those charged with possession, and would allow convictions to be vacated on completed treatment.

A modified version of Senate Bill 5536 passed the Senate chamber with a vote of 28-21. This bill will receive a public hearing in the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee on Monday, March 20, 2023, at 1:30 p.m.

Finally, a concerning bill, House Bill 1513, which sought to limit law enforcement officers’ ability to stop people for non-moving violations, didn’t make it past house of origin cutoff. This bill would’ve put drivers at risk and made our communities less safe. I’m glad this bill didn’t gain traction this session.

Stay connected

Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with any questions, concerns, or ideas regarding your state government. You can find my contact information at the bottom of this email. Below are some helpful links you might also find useful.

It’s an honor to serve you.

In your service,

Eric Robertson

State Representative Eric Robertson, 31st Legislative District
465 John L. O’Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7866 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000