Two standbys of the progressive agenda, Seattle Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles' (D-36) bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot and Seattle Sen. Adam Kline's (D-37) bill to prevent contractors from waiving warranty rights for homebuyers—didn't make it.
The homebuyers' rights bill has a contentious history—three years ago, the bill sponsor, then-Sen. Brian Weinstein (D-41) called House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43) a "dictator" and a pawn of the building industry for killing the bill.
Weinstein's longtime ally on the bill, disgruntled state Rep. Brendan Williams (D-22), who's not running for reelection, issued a pro forma obit on the bill this week.
Rep. Williams wrote:
Although we now take for granted the annual death of this vital consumer protection, which so many states – including even Louisiana – provide, its passing is still worth noting. It’s a sad day for Washingtonians struggling to pay mortgages and also pay the costs of avoidable homebuilder negligence. A political process owned entirely by special interests provides no hope to the hopeless. And that process becomes increasingly irrelevant to those, including military families in my 22nd District, for whom homeownership is still an American dream worth striving for.
The ACLU has the death notice on Sen. Kohl-Welles' marijuana bill. Their full statement is below the fold.
ACLU statement on marijuana decriminalization bill:
Senate Bill 5615, which would have freed up Washington's criminal justice resources by making adult possession of small amounts of marijuana an infraction carrying a fine rather than a misdemeanor carrying mandatory jail time, failed to get a Senate vote yesterday. Therefore, efforts to address adult marijuana use through a civil, public health approach, rather than a failed criminalization approach, have died for the 2010 legislative session.
The ACLU of Washington is disappointed by the legislature's failure to pass this bill despite strong and consistent public support for it. An overwhelming majority of Washington voters support the modest change proposed by SB 5615 - a change already made in 13 other states, 11 of them as long ago as the 1970s, with no adverse impact. Studies in those states demonstrate no increase in marijuana use among adults or youth, results echoed in jurisdictions like Seattle where adult marijuana possession has been the lowest law enforcement priority since 2003.
In 2008, police and prosecutors filed 12,428 cases involving misdemeanor marijuana possession by adults in Washington courts - using funds that would be far better spent addressing other priorities, including violent crime. The Washington State Office of Financial Management estimated that SB 5615 and its companion HB 1177 would have made approximately $15-16 million in scarce public safety dollars available to combat true public safety threats, and would have directed significant resources to sorely needed state-funded treatment and prevention services.
We applaud Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, prime sponsor of SB 5615, for her tireless efforts to advocate for sensible reforms grounded in reason, science, and fiscal responsibility. And we hope our legislature will get the electorate's message in 2011 and pass marijuana decriminalization legislation. It's time to stop wasting money on arresting and jailing adults for marijuana use and invest instead in proven prevention and treatment programs.