One of the most serious topics we have before us this session is addressing the crisis of drug addiction that’s affecting far too many families across Washington state. The grip of addiction causes untold pain and death, and connects to so many other issues, like public safety and homelessness. The Legislature has to act.
I’m very encouraged by the way the Legislature has taken on the issue of drug addiction this year. There’s a bipartisan commitment to passing a solution, and even though not all of us agree on what that solution should be, we have all been working together, debating, considering different ideas, and collaborating, instead of turning this into a political football. It’s been a great example of how our process of government is supposed to work.
Right now, we’re passing a bill out of the Senate Ways & Means Committee for consideration on the Senate floor in the coming days. The goal of the bill is to do what works – drug treatment. Our criminal justice system has got to get people into treatment, and the state has to fund that treatment. These are programs that can help people kick their habits and break the cycle of addiction, if everyone involved does their part.
My goal in helping to shape this bill is to ensure that people actually go to treatment and commit to the process. I don’t think we should be making someone a felon and ruining their life because they got caught with illegal drugs, but I also think that encouraging people to authentically participate in treatment has two sides to it. We need to give people who are in trouble the help they need and make sure our treatment programs have the resources to succeed, but we also need consequences for those who walk away from treatment or don’t engage, to help push them towards doing the right thing.
I’m amending the bill as it stands to make sure that element is part of the legislation, and I hope I’m able to keep this in the final version of the bill as it goes through the process.
I talked about this issue in my weekly video – feel free to watch and share:
Next week is when we start floor action in earnest, and I’m excited to report back to you on some of the important bills that we’ll be passing. As always, I appreciate your feedback, thoughts, and questions – you can reach me at Mark.Mullet@leg.wa.gov. Thanks for reading!
Sen. Mark Mullet