One of the issues we’ve heard the most about from our constituents is the importance of public safety. People should be safe, and feel safe, in their communities, and I believe we need to make that a reality for all.

The best way to keep us all safe is to prevent crime in the first place – to address the root causes of crime, which usually have to do with poverty, drug addiction, behavioral health, or some combination of these factors. Rather than waiting until someone commits a crime then sending them to jail, it’s better if they never commit the crime in the first place.

That’s why I’ve worked to pass legislation and budgets that make dramatic and transformative new changes in our behavioral health and drug treatment systems. We’ve made historic investments in treatment and behavioral health supports – about $1.2 billion just this year, proof of our commitment to the issue. When it’s appropriate, we’re working to make sure people can get care and help in their community, around the places and people they know who are best qualified to help, rather than having to go to one of the massive mental health hospitals like Western State, which can often be disruptive and less effective. We’re also making progress on building more affordable housing, to help keep people stable and housed. There’s a lot more to do here, but I think we’re finally starting to turn the corner on this challenge.

Sen. Bob Hasegawa speaking on the Senate floorI am happy with the legislation we’ve passed on gun violence – cracking down on 3-D printed “ghost guns,” requiring a 10-day waiting people and safety training to buy a gun, streamlining the process for Washington State Patrol to conduct firearm-related background checks, prohibiting firearm possession for people with a DV protection order, and a lot more.

We’ve also done a lot this year to support the victims of crimes, especially domestic violence, with bills like HB 1715 and HB 1028, to increase monitoring of domestic violence offenders, improve training for law enforcement and prosecutors in responding to domestic violence and gender-based violence, add protections for victims, and a whole lot more. Domestic violence represents more than half of all assaults in Washington state, so better protections for these victims and responses to prevent offenders from reoffending is very important.

I’m committed to making our communities safer and working for legislation that addresses the true causes of crime. It’s our job as legislators to look at data and find the real solutions that actually work, and that’s what I try to do every day.

Feel free to share your thoughts and feedback with me here. Your input is important as we put our agendas together for the 2024 legislative session, beginning in January. Thanks for reading, as always.


Sen. Bob Hasegawa