(The Center Square) – Washington state Republicans are not giving up on efforts to amend police pursuit rules, despite the fact majority Democrats have yet to schedule a hearing on Initiative 2113 to the Legislature during the session that started last week.
I-2113 was designed to remove certain restrictions on police officers’ vehicular pursuits.
“We need to hold a hearing on this,” Rep. Chris Corry, R-Yakima, told The Center Square. “We have an obligation to listen to what the people of Washington state are asking us to do.”
He continued, “We need to show the people we are serious about their request and hold a hearing to find out how this bill could restore some sanity to our streets.”
Barring that, he said, “The voters will get a chance to have their say and I have a great deal of confidence that they will pass this bill….this seems to be a very bipartisan issue and request by the people. So why not do what the state Constitution asks and give this a high priority for consideration?”
Even if the Democrats have no intention of passing this, Corry contends “it should be more than just referring to a committee to let it die.”
He added, “The people deserve to have their voices heard and our duty is to respect and uphold the constitution.”
Democrats have yet to schedule a hearing for I-2113, which was officially certified last week by the Secretary of State’s Office.
Strict limits on police pursuits were part of sweeping police reforms passed by the majority in recent years that critics say have led to devastating and at times deadly consequences. Proponents argue the reforms have saved lives by preventing police chases that endanger the public.
Last year, former King County Deputy Prosecutor Bob Scales contended that certain data lawmakers were using on police pursuit deaths to make policy was not accurate.
Law enforcement groups have been pleading for restoration of their ability to enforce laws as they existed prior to the recent changes.
County police chiefs, mayors, sheriffs and elected officials have indicated they have seen a rise in crime as criminals become more emboldened and show a blatant disregard for the law.
“Public safety is a top priority for House Republicans, and fixing police pursuits is one of the most important things the Legislature can do to make the people of Washington state safer,” Corry said.
During a Democratic media availability event on Tuesday, House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said, “Each of the initiatives that have been submitted, we will take them individually.”
She had no further comment on I-2113.
Voter initiatives to the Legislature are exempt from cutoff, meaning they can receive a hearing and committee consideration at any point during session.