Gov. Jay Inslee announced he will call a special session to begin May 16. The session will focus on passing a new drug possession law. Inslee set the date after conversations with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders.
“My office and I have been meeting with legislators from all four caucuses and I am very optimistic about reaching an agreement that can pass both chambers,” Inslee said. “Cities and counties are eager to see a statewide policy that balances accountability and treatment, and I believe we can produce a bipartisan bill that does just that. Details are still being negotiated, but caucus leaders share the desire to pass a bill. I believe that starting the clock on May 16 will put us on a path to getting the job done this month.”
The so-called “Blake fix” was the only remaining must-do item legislators didn’t finish during the regular legislative session that ended April 23. In 2021, the Washington Supreme Court overturned the state’s felony drug possession law. Legislators adopted a temporary misdemeanor policy that expires July 1. In the absence of a statewide policy, several cities and counties have announced their intent to pass their own ordinances which would create a confusing patchwork of policies, treatment options and penalties.
The Legislature has earmarked more than $600 million in new state funding for myriad behavioral health services, including additional treatment facilities and services for people with substance use disorders.
Special sessions are 30 days, but Inslee says that if legislators come with an agreed-upon proposal, they should be able to finish within several days and adjourn promptly.