People feel unsafe in their communities as crime, drug use and mental illness soar

Beyond campaign lip service, Democrats show little interest in fixing past mistakes on public safety



Many in our communities feel unsafe. Murder, assault, retail theft, shootings…all are at an all-time high.

“Anti-police policies passed by the majority in 2021 completely missed the target,” said Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia. “Instead of improving the equity in law enforcement activities, these policies have emboldened criminals to steal from and hurt law-abiding people and businesses. Police are treated like the enemy and hamstrung by the new laws. Offenders are given more rights than their victims.”

Despite supporting the “Defund Police” movement, many Democrats have recently paid lip service in support of law enforcement, claiming they want safer communities. However, some have indicated in the press that reforming two bills from 2021 that have proved to be a huge mistake is not on their list of priorities. One of these bills has severely restricted the ability of police to pursue a suspect. What’s more, many Democrats have fought for legislation that effectively legalizes the possession of hard drugs such as fentanyl. And despite wide, bipartisan support, expanding the DUI lookback period has repeatedly failed to become law.

Senate Republicans remain steadfast in our support for the members of law enforcement, for holding criminals accountable for their actions, and for encouraging the prosecution and incarceration of those who are threatening the safety of you and your children. Improving the access to training so we can staff law enforcement at levels for which we are already funding is a key step. So, too, is having the ability to compel criminals into substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment.

It’s impossible to focus on other issues when you don’t feel safe in your home, your school, your place of business or your community. Public safety IS our number one priority.

We will fight to:

  • Fix the police pursuit legislation that allows criminals to flee without being chased
  • Increase the lookback timeframe on DUI convictions from 10 years to 15 years
  • Provide resources to train additional law enforcement officers
  • Support the efforts of law enforcement and prosecutors to catch, charge and convict criminals
  • Squash legislation that makes people and businesses in our communities a target for violent crime

Follow the Senate Law & Justice Committee

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Listen: Senate Republicans file bills to reverse criminal friendly Democrat laws



Watch: Restoring Public Safety


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2023 Legislation Session Preview – Jan. 5, 2023

Sen. John Braun: To restore public trust, start reestablishing public safety


Senator Nikki Torres: Skyrocketing crime rates were predictable after the Democrats “waged a legislative war on law enforcement.”

In the press

What did majority Democrats do to address public safety in 2022?

Pot-shop protection bill fails to clear Democrat-controlled House

In the days since the end of the session, the news statewide has been filled with stories about armed robberies at cannabis retailers, including some that resulted in deaths. Unfortunately, I predicted this would be the case when Democrats failed to act on my bill to address this issue.

Senate Bill 5927 would have added a year to the prison sentence of someone convicted of first- or second-degree robbery of a cannabis retail outlet. It’s the same extended sentence that goes with the robbery of a pharmacy and would be applied to robberies of cannabis retailers when the crime is planned and carried out by two or more people.

Due to federal banking rules, these businesses are almost entirely cash-only operations, making them a target for robberies and a magnet for criminals. The number of robberies of cannabis stores is on the rise, and this bill would have benefited not just the retailers but the community as a whole.


Majority blocks bills to help address fentanyl crisis

According to the state Department of Health, opioid overdose deaths in Washington rose from 2013 through 2020, driven by heroin deaths, and more recently, fentanyl deaths. Deaths involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are now more common than those involving heroin, with the highest death rates and largest increases being seen in rural counties, such as Yakima and Klickitat.

To address this crisis, I introduced two bills this session. Senate Bill 5509 would have excluded fentanyl-testing equipment from the definition of “drug paraphernalia.” Because a single dose of the deadly substance can kill a user, testing can save lives. Senate Bill 5524 would have imposed a life sentence for those convicted of committing a controlled-substances homicide involving fentanyl-laced drugs.

Our testing-strip bill passed the Senate unanimously, but never even received a hearing from the House Public Safety Committee. Our bill increasing the penalty for those convicted of committing homicide with fentanyl-laced drugs was completely ignored by the Senate majority.


Democrats run out the clock on bipartisan pursuit bill

In addition, the majority also ran out the clock on ESB 5919 – Concerning the definition of “physical force,” “necessary,” and “totality of the circumstances,” and the standard for law enforcement authority to use physical force and providing the authority for a peace officer to engage in a vehicular pursuit when there is reasonable suspicion a person has violated the law and the officer follows appropriate safety standards. (Van De Wege) This compromise legislation would have improved the standards for police pursuit, making it easier for law enforcement to do its job.