Serving Franklin County, WA

Special session called for 'Blake fix'

RITZVILLE – Sen. Mark Schoesler and other state lawmakers will return to the Capitol for a special session beginning May 16.

“After returning home to Ritzville early last week following the end of this year’s legislative session, I was not planning to return to Olympia for at least a few months,” the 9th Legislative District senator said. “Turns out, my fellow legislators and I may be back at the Capitol little more than a week from now.”

Gov. Jay Inslee called the special session in an effort to prompt the Legislature to pass a comprehensive new drug-possession law.

The current temporary law expires June 30.

“Without a “Blake fix,” hard drugs will be legal at the state level – and the job of imposing drug-possession laws can fall to cities and counties,” Schoesler said. “That could create a patchwork set of local laws in which one city could have tough penalties on possession while a nearby city might have no penalty at all.

Without a new law in place, possession of drugs – even fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine – will become legal.

The temporary law was enacted after a state Supreme Court decision struck down the previous drug-possession law as unconstitutional in State v. Blake. The high court said the law was unconstitutional because it criminalized possession even if a person was unknowingly in possession.

In response to the court decision, the Legislature passed a temporary law with a sunset clause that reduced possession of all drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor.

The Senate passed a new drug-possession law, Senate Bill 5536, in March, but it never made it to the governor’s desk.

Schoesler opposed the measure.

“I voted against it because it does not provide strong enough punishment for major drug offenses,” he said. “That version declared that illegally possessing hard drugs is a gross misdemeanor while possessing other classes of drugs is a misdemeanor.

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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