House Republicans seek to strengthen public safety during weekend marathon session

House Republicans were able to pass legislation to make some positive fixes to anti-police bills adopted by Democrats in 2021.

House Republicans were able to pass legislation to make some positive fixes to anti-police bills adopted by Democrats in 2021

During an 18-hour session that began Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. and ended early Sunday morning at 2:30 a.m., House Republicans were able to pass legislation to make some positive fixes to anti-police bills adopted by Democrats in 2021. But disappointingly, Rep. Peter Abbarno says majority Democrats were still up to some of their same policies, passing at least one major “soft-on-crime” bill.

On Saturday afternoon, the lawmakers in the state House approved a measure that would provide a clear definition of the use of physical force when law enforcement detains a suspect. Abbarno said while it doesn’t go far enough, House Bill 2037 is a step in the right direction.

“While it is neither a perfect bill, nor fixes all that Democrats broke last year when they unilaterally pushed through their policing agenda, House Bill 2037 does address some of the needs for law enforcement to respond to criminal activity,” said Abbarno (Republican, 20th District). “There is still a long way to go.”

The 20th District lawmaker noted that crime has significantly risen across the state since the anti-police laws took effect last July, which has also allowed suspects to drive away from the scene of a crime while law enforcement officers have been restricted from giving chase.

“House Republicans are hoping to change the law that stops police officers from vehicular pursuits. We are calling on Democrats to allow House Bill 1788 to come to the floor for a vote. The measure would allow police officers to engage in vehicular pursuits when there is reasonable suspicion that someone in the vehicle has committed or is committing a violent offense, is attempting to escape, or is driving under the influence,” noted Abbarno. “This is an important public safety tool to ensure criminals are caught and brought to justice.”

Abbarno said while public safety is a priority for Republicans in the 2022 legislative session, another bill House Democrats passed Saturday morning would lessen drug penalties.

House Bill 1169 would eliminate the sentencing enhancement for certain controlled substances committed in protected zones, as well as the sentencing enhancement for involving a minor in a criminal street gang-related felony. It also provides a process for resentencing persons who are currently serving a sentence that includes multiple, consecutive firearm enhancements.

“It is astonishing that House Democrats have not learned the lessons of the past year and passed House Bill 1169, which would reduce penalties for repeat criminals,” said Abbarno. “As a father, I struggle to understand why Democrats would reduce the penalty for committing crimes near bus stops, where young children are often waiting to get on a bus. This bill continues to take our state in the wrong direction.”

House Bill 1169 would also remove current law restrictions on partial confinement and earned early release for sentencing enhancements, and would apply the changes retroactively to all incarcerated persons.

“Our communities have been made less safe by the majority party’s restrictions on law enforcement. We don’t need further legislation to put our communities, families and children at greater risk. I am committed, along with my fellow Republicans in the House and Senate, to pass legislation that creates a safe Washington, one that restores law enforcement’s ability to do their jobs to restore public safety,” Abbarno concluded.

Information provided by Washington State House Republicans, houserepublicans.wa.gov

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