OLYMPIA, Wash., February 22, 2022Representative Lauren Davis, Senator Jesse Saloman, and Representative Cindy Ryu held a virtual town hall, February 16, to update the public on the current legislative session and answer any questions submitted through social media platforms.

Rep. Ryu began with an update on her current work progress with Public Works broadband, community investment funds, and small business assistance.

Ryu is reworking HB1707 to exclude members of Native tribes requiring the use of life jackets in canoes and kayaks, at the tribes’ request, to avoid over policing of on waters. Native tribes have had a long history with aggressive actions from the state, Ryu said, to remove them from the waters which the State Supreme Court later affirmed is their treaty right to have access for fishing.

Senator Saloman began his introduction by saying that it’s great to be back in-person, at least on the senate side. He gave an update on his environmental bill, SB-5885, to help salmon habitats, as well as bills to combat the housing crises throughout the state.

Behavioral health has continued to be a priority of Rep. Lauren Davis, particularly throughout the stresses of the pandemic, which has exacerbated the needs for services. She gave an update on her bills that support these needs including one that ensure patients are not discharged from psychiatric or substance abuse clinics into homelessness and announced the senate has fully funded the Lynnwood Recovery Center.

Public Questions

Cynthia, a local resident, opened the public comments section by thanking the legislatures for everything they’ve done for housing but asked if they could elaborate on HB-1660, concerning accessory dwelling units, and what it will bring to the 32nd district.

Rep. Ryu, who supported the bill, answered the question by elaborating that the bill mirrors one similar in California which will allow (not mandate) additional ADU’s, on buildable lots beyond a half mile from transit, including detached ADU’s which look and act similar to duplexes or “cottage apartments”.

“It is the best ADU bill in the nation to start making that progress,” Ryu said. “I’m very happy about that bill that’s in the senate right now.”

On a similar topic, Marianne asked a question about what is being done about homelessness.

Rep. Lauren Davis jumped in on the question to explain that last year the house has made some “really historic investments” relating to housing and homelessness, mainly in the form of operating budget dollars which support things like housing vouchers, hotel/motel conversion, and behavioral health task forces. This session, Davis explained there will be a continuance in similar investments in addition to remaining COVID relief dollars that are planned to be used for housing issues.

Sen. Saloman added he is working on a bill concerning drug and substance abuse that would assist those suffering from substance abuse in finding treatment without receiving a criminal record.

Steering away from housing and homelessness, Dean asked a question about climate change and what legislation is doing to fight it, which Sen. Saloman received.

Saloman agreed with the resident that climate change is real and an ongoing existential threat, reminding him of the Climate Commitment Act, which passed last year, and a team up with California and the providence of Quebec to create a cap and trade market that will drive down the use of carbon. This legislative session Saloman said there are new bills, such as one that deals with residential natural gas, that will continue prioritizing the environment and ongoing climate change threats.

The bill in reference is HB1770, which resident Ariana Ylvisaker next asked via YouTube, if Sen. Saloman would be supporting. Saloman answered that he is interested in the issue but has not had an opportunity to review the bill in its entirety.

A couple residents asked, via Facebook, about clarification on police reform bills.

“I do believe we took a step too far. When you pass big policy changes you don’t always know how they’re going to play out in real life,” Saloman said.

Saloman mentioned he has spent a good portion of time talking to police departments and prosecutors who shared that their basic ability to police has been compromised even including holding someone during an investigation to find out what happened during a domestic violence stop.

“We have been voting on bills that will be making some tweaks and allow police to do the basic functions of their job, but I want to emphasize that most of the reforms will remain in place,” Saloman said.

Vicky asked a question about guns, particularly SB-5078, relating to high-capacity magazines, and what is going through this legislation relating to gun safety.

Rep. Davis supported the ban on high-capacity magazines stating that it is a deterrent for mass shootings since the shooter would need to reload more frequently allowing an opportunity for bystanders to intervene.

Naz Lashgari asked, via Facebook, about SB-5660, concerning psilocybin treatment. Sen. Saloman took the question stating that in the 1960’s psilocybin was classified as a schedule one drug, along with cocaine and heroin, because it lacked medicinal value.

“They were wrong to put those drugs together,” Saloman said who noted the classification was most likely due to a culture war but recent scientific research has found the substance helps with PTSD, addiction treatment, anxiety and depression, etc.

Saloman explained the bill would not legalize psilocybin to the extent of cannabis, it would not be purchasable at retail stores, but used in controlled settings with professionals. He expressed his support for the bill noting the beneficial results cannot be ignored.

Additional questions from the public involved HB-1815, deterring catalytic converter theft, banning no-knock warrants (banned last year), language access in schools (now in the hands of the senate), holding plastic manufacturers responsible for recycling costs (currently dead), adopting a single payer healthcare system (supported by Davis, as a member of the Healthcare Committee), and HB-1901, protecting domestic violence victims.

Kienan Briscoe

Michael Kienan Briscoe (referred to by his middle name 'Kienan') has a BA in Journalism from Arizona State University and has worked as a freelancer for a variety of publications and organizations throughout New York City and Seattle. Journalism, to him, is one of the most important public tools to ensure an educated and aware society of events surrounding them. When he is not reporting he enjoys writing fiction and poetry, playing guitar, reading classic literature, and getting outdoors. He lives in Seattle with his two dogs.

Kienan Briscoe has 261 posts and counting. See all posts by Kienan Briscoe

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