This week on Inside Olympia, host Austin Jenkins sits down with state legislative leaders to discuss the 2022 elections, and look ahead to the 2023 legislative session, which starts in January.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig of Spokane says he’s pleased with the results of the 2022 August primary election. While some expected a “red wave,” with Democrats losing ground to Republicans. But that largely didn’t happen. Billig attributes the results as a vote of endorsement from voters for the work that majority Democrats have emphasized in the last two years in Olympia, focusing on such issues as health care and child care and climate change. Plus, he sees voter backlash against the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.
Billig recently led a community meeting in Spokane to talk about the 2021 “Blake” decision regarding drug possession, and how best to navigate the intersection of substance abuse treatment and the criminal justice system in the wake of that decision. Figuring out how to respond to Blake will be one issue on the table in the upcoming 2023 legislative session. Billig said other potential issues include access to reproductive health and contraception, and legislation addressing gun safety.
House Republican Floor Leader Jacquelin Maycumber of Republic said turnout was low in the 2022 primary, and that the results suggest that many voters have not yet weighed in on state legislative races, as they will in the Nov. 8 general election. She believes the top issues on voters’ minds are public safety, inflation and the economy and the cost of living.
She agrees that the Blake decision needs to be looked at more closely, but believes some degree of criminal sanction is necessary to force users into treatment. Maycumber said Republicans are advocating for more and more broad-based tax relief, mentioning a sales tax reduction as one proposal favored by her colleagues.