Governor Jay Inslee is calling a special session of the state legislature to focus on passing a new drug possession law.  

Inslee set the date of May 16 after conversations with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders. 

“My office and I have been meeting with legislators from all four caucuses and I am very optimistic about reaching an agreement that can pass both chambers,” Inslee said in a news release. 

 “Cities and counties are eager to see a statewide policy that balances accountability and treatment, and I believe we can produce a bipartisan bill that does just that. Details are still being negotiated, but caucus leaders share the desire to pass a bill. I believe that starting the clock on May 16 will put us on a path to getting the job done this month.” 

Special sessions in the Washington legislature are limited to 30 days, but can often take less time with a single issue on the table.

Inslee noted the so-called “Blake fix” is the only remaining must-do item legislators didn’t finish during the regular legislative session.  

Lawmakers tried to compromise on a new law before adjourning for the year on April 23, but the measure was rejected at the last minute in the House. 

The Washington Supreme Court overturned the state’s felony drug possession law as unconstitutional in 2021. 

Lawmakers adopted a temporary misdemeanor policy later that year that expires July 1.  

Cities and counties have announced plans to pass their own ordinances in the absence of a statewide policy, which Inslee says would create a confusing patchwork of policies, treatment options and penalties. 

Inslee also noted in his news release the Legislature set aside more than $600 million in new state funding for a wide range of behavioral health services, including additional treatment and services for people with substance use disorders. 

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