Record Deaths of Unhoused People in King County in 2022
WA State Legislature News:
Last week, The Stranger ran an excellent series by Will Casey covering some issues facing lawmakers during this legislative session:
- Washington’s Next Police Reform Battle: Ending Qualified Immunity Won’t Be Easy, but It’s Necessary
- Washington Takes Aim at the Gun Industry: We’re Banning Assault Weapons! Requiring Gun Permits! And Unleashing Bob Ferguson! Maybe!
- How Washington Plans to Fix the Behavioral Health Crisis: Crisis Care, Not Jail, Is the Answer
HB 1025, a bill concerning civil liability for police, and HB 1445, a bill that would give the state’s Attorney General powers of investigation & reform similar in some respects to those powers currently enjoyed by the federal Department of Justice, are expected to have their first hearings next week. HB 1087, the solitary confinement bill, was heard in committee last week and is potentially scheduled for executive session on Friday. We’re still waiting for word on the traffic stops and independent prosecutor bills, as well as the bills dealing with the aftermath of the Blake decision. There is also talk about a new bill dealing with high speed vehicular pursuits by police that might undo the new standard adopted by the legislature in 2021, which has reduced deaths due to vehicular pursuit by 73%.
Other bills I’m watching with interest include HB 1024, which would enact a minimum wage for prison labor; HB 1110, known as the middle housing bill; HB 1045 to start a basic income pilot program for the state; and SB 5383 and companion bill HB 1428 to decriminalize jaywalking. For a great overview of how to participate in this state legislative session, as well as more details about the jaywalking bill, you can check out The Urbanist’s writeup here.
Seattle and King County News:
In tragic news, King County set a painful record in 2022: 310 people died while unhoused across King County. This represents a 65% increase in deaths from 2021, and more than half of the reported deaths were due to fentanyl-related fatal overdoses.
In Seattle City Council election news, Joy Hollingsworth, a cannabis farming entrepreneur, declared her candidacy for the seat in District 3. CM Sawant, who currently holds that seat, has not yet said whether she will seek re-election. Current CM for District 7 Andrew Lewis declared he will seek re-election, and The Seattle Times reports he said the most pressing issue facing the city is crime, which seems like an attempt to make things more difficult for his challengers from the right.
Last week there was a town hall held at Rainier Beach High School, which included students discussing their safety concerns and how their school is neglected when it comes to budgeting decisions in the district.
The CHOP business owners’ lawsuit against the city of Seattle continues, and the presiding Judge has ruled about what to do in the matter of those critical missing text messages. As Kevin Schofield writes:
…he found that some of the messages had been knowingly deleted and that it prejudiced the city’s ability to provide a defense; he granted the city the right to present evidence to a jury about those deleted messages. More significantly, he found substantial circumstantial evidence that several city officials had deleted messages with intent to deprive the plainitffs of those messages, and that too was prejudicial. Zilly considered whether to decide the case in the plaintiffs’ favor on that basis alone, given that the messages were between Mayor Durkan, SPD Chief Best, and SFD Chief Skoggins, but he decided that would be too extreme a remedy. Instead, he will allow the plaintiffs to present evidence to the jury about the deleted messages, and he will deliver an instruction to the jury that they may presume the deleted messages were unfavorable to the city.