Serving Franklin County, WA

Sen. Schoesler's plans for 2023 Legislative session

Schoesler looks to impact budget and try to save money

RITZVILLE — In an interview with Legislative District No. 9 Sen. Mark Schoesler on Thursday, Nov. 15, talked about some of his plans for the 2023 session, and some of the main issues he intends to address.

“I will be the ranking republican on the capital budget, and the capital budget is a less partisan part of Olympia,” Schoesler said, noting that he will familiarize himself with the budget, and “trying to influence the good and reduce a little of the bad.”

Schoesler mentioned that the labor of commerce will have interesting things to work on with the paid family medical leave act, solvency, and “marijuana wars” happening.

“I have three bills, plus a fourth bill and a constitutional amendment to try and help reduce the cost of school construction,” Schoelser said, noting that he is looking to save the money.

“Another issue I’m going to resubmit is Senate Bill 5202,” which he explained passed the senate with only three descending votes last year, making it to the floor of the house without getting passed. The bill says every district must set up an depreciation account, which they will deposit up to two or three percent of their annual budget into. The account cannot be used for compensation or anything like that.

“It can only be used to do major maintenance on your school buildings,” Schoesler said, using the example that if Colfax wanted to put a few thousand dollars away a year, and Pullman wanted to put tens of thousands away they would have money in the future for a new roof.

“Would you rather pay cash for that from your protected savings account,” Schoesler asked, “or ask the voters for higher levies? Wouldn’t it be good to have a savings account that can’t be frittered away?” He noted that the only people who don’t like the bill are the proponents of simple majority bonds, and he intends to continue to work on the idea.

Schoesler also intends on introducing a bill in labor and commerce, which he explained is a permitting bill for those who need to transfer a liquor license or buy a business and get it “they have to do it in 30 days or show cause for why they can’t. If they can’t show cause why, then you get another 30 days, and then it becomes permanent,” he said.

He used the example of golf course that wanted a beer and wine license, but didn’t want to stay open late or have entertainment, “just basically some ladies like a glass of wine when they golf, and the guys like a beer,” Schoesler said, noting he asked the liquor board if they knew prohibition had ended.

Schoesler wants to be a more active participant in fixing issues in law enforcement. Having met with Pullman Association of Cities, he mentioned that they talked about vehicle pursuits being top of the list for local governments and law enforcement, “this is a failed crime experiment, and I’m not on the policy committee, but it’s the right thing to do,” he said. Current pursuit policies were passed in 2021, when the state legislature passed House Bill 1054, which limits police to engage in a pursuit if there is probable cause to arrest a person in the vehicle for committing a specific violent crime.

The Senator talked about hard drugs, and the Blake Decision “We have to fix the Blake Decision,” Schoesler said, noting that the health risks for those abusing substances is high, since the people are not being arrested or getting treatment.

The Blake Decision was a decision made by the Washington Supreme Court Feb. 25, 2021 that declared the state’s drug possession statute unconstitutional. The ruling occurred in a 2016 case known as State v. Blake, in which Shannon Blake was arrested in Spokane, and convicted for having drugs in her possession. Blake claimed to have not known the baggie of methamphetamine was there, due to having borrowed her friend’s jeans.

The decision stated that the statute was unconstitutional for criminalizing those who didn’t know they had possession of drugs, allowing those with pending charges to be released from jails, with their charges dismissed.

“These people are dying,” Schoesler said, questioning the odds of arresting somebody that’s doing heroin, meth, or fentanyl three times, “so I’ll be working on that.”

Schoelser also addressed some of the challenges that the agriculture sector is facing from current laws like ag overtime, and a potential buffer bill from the governor’s office and other increased cost drivers. He did have hopes for it though, noting that “We have more people who want to be on the Ag, and Natural Resources Committee than we’ll ever have slots,” adding that he has assumed a key role in budgets concerning it.

As for any other issues he is going to address, “things always come through other committees, there’s always a surprise,” he said.


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