Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After much talk about the law enforcement pursuit bill this session, the House passed its version just after midnight Tuesday morning. Below is a copy of the news release Rep. Leonard Christian and I sent to the media outlets in the 4th District.
During a late-night debate on the House floor Tuesday, lawmakers passed a controversial bill that would allow police to engage in vehicular pursuits of criminal suspects on a very limited basis.
Police reforms approved by the majority party in 2021 requires a higher threshold for when officers carry out a pursuit. Rather than “reasonable suspicion” they need “probable cause.” Since that change, there has been a surge in stolen vehicles and would-be criminals fleeing from police.
Senate Bill 5352 would lower the “probable cause” standard, but only in specific instances. Police could only pursue in limited cases involving those suspected of a violent crime, a sex offense, domestic violence-related offenses, driving while under the influence, and trying to escape arrest.
“While we felt this bill did not go far enough to restore public safety, we believe it was the right decision to support this legislation. We contacted Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl and Spokane County Sheriff John Nowels. Based on our conversations and their input, we felt we needed to move Senate Bill 5342 forward, rather than run the risk of adjourning the session without any progress on the vehicle pursuit issue.
“We had hoped for more, but at least we finally moved this disastrous policy back in the right direction. That said, the conversation must continue.
“Our law enforcement, local governments, communities and neighborhoods deserve more. We are concerned we will continue to see an increase in crime and vehicle pursuits and when we return to Olympia next year, we will still need a more comprehensive solution.”
Senate Bill 5352 was approved by a vote of 57-40. The bill was amended in the House policy committee, so it now heads to the Senate for a concurrence vote.
There were many “yes” and “no” votes from both sides of the aisle. The difference being, the “no’s” on the other side of the aisle thought the bill went too far or they did not want to make changes to the pursuit law.
Please let me know if you have any questions on this issue.
Appearance on TVW
I had the opportunity to be on TVW’s Inside Olympia with Host Austin Jenkins. I was joined by fellow House Republican Rep. Stephanie McClintock, R-Vancouver. We discussed our backgrounds, shared what motivated us to run for office, and talked about some of the issues happening this year in the legislative session, including bills we have been working on.
While the Legislature is adjourning soon, I encourage you to stay update to date on your state government. Below are some websites that you can follow during the interim that will keep you updated on legislative and state news throughout the year.
- Representative Suzanne Schmidt (my legislative website)
- The Ledger – a legislative news aggregator
- Capitol Buzz – Daily news clips
It is an honor to serve the 4th District in the state House of Representatives.