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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2023 legislative session adjourned sine die on Sunday, April 23rd, as scheduled. I am happy to be back in the district and look forward to meeting with constituents to discuss all that happened during those 105-days.

Washington’s drug possession law – a Blake fix

On Sunday, the majority party brought up a measure to address the state’s drug possession laws, Senate Bill 5536, for a vote. The bill failed to pass by a vote of 43-55, falling seven votes short of a majority.  

House Republicans had major concerns with this version of the legislation. While the bill would have established drug possession as a gross misdemeanor, it created opportunities for violators to avoid accountability and substance abuse treatment. It would have also prevented local governments from restricting the distribution of dangerous drug paraphernalia; housed recovering addicts with active drug users; established “safe” injection sites open to all ages, including children; and eliminated the public notice requirement for siting opioid treatment facilities.

I voted no because the people of Washington deserve much better. We need to get people into treatment and off the streets, and this bill would have only made the problem worse. There’s been talk of a special session before the July 1st deadline to address this issue. I will keep you posted.

Background: In Feb. 2021, the state Supreme Court ruled in in State v. Blake, that Washington’s felony drug-possession statute was unconstitutional because it criminalized possession even when a person did not knowingly have drugs.

Two months later, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5476, a temporary measure reducing the penalty for possessing illegal drugs like fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine from a felony to a misdemeanor, which is set to expire on July 1, 2023. Unless the Legislature acts in time, there will be no statewide criminal penalty for possession of these drugs. Local governments could, however, adopt their own criminal penalties.

Anti-firearm bill update

Governor Inslee on Tuesday signed all three anti-firearm bills. I voted no on all three bills and spoke against their passage:  

  • House Bill 1143 would impose training, permitting, and waiting period requirements on gun owners and firearm dealers with large fines and possible jail time.
  • House Bill 1240 would outlaw the manufacture, importation, distribution, sale, or offer for sale of any so-called “assault weapon” with an emergency clause to go into effect once signed.
  • Senate Bill 5078 would hold gun manufacturers legally responsible for how individuals misuse their products.

It’s useful to remember what our state and federal constitutions say on the matter:

Article I, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I am sure there will be lawsuits to follow.

Attack on parental rights

Senate Bill 5599, the measure to allow youth shelters and similar organizations to not notify parents that their children are at a shelter if they are receiving “gender affirming” care or reproductive services, has been sent to Governor Inslee’s desk for his signature. The governor has indicated he plans to sign the measure.

This misguided piece of legislation will harm families emotionally and financially. It’s my hope that the governor listens to the overwhelming public testimony we heard against this bill and vetoes it. If not, it’s a clear violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Parents have a right to parent, and they should not be denied that right in the absence of abuse or neglect.  

Upcoming town hall meeting

On May 27th at 10:00 a.m., Sen. Mike Padden, Rep. Suzanne Schmidt and I will host an in-person town hall meeting at CenterPlace Event Center (2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley).

As always, residents of the 4th District are welcome to join us for a discussion about the 2023 legislative session and other important topics in our region and state.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Future updates

Now that the legislative session has concluded, these weekly email updates will become monthly. If there are issues you would like me to highlight, or important events in the community, please let me know.

Legislative resources

  • My legislative website | Find my contact information, bio, news releases, email updates, videos, opinion pieces, bills, and other information.
  • The Capitol Buzz | A weekday roundup of online news stories.   
  • The Current | An online legislative publication from the Washington House Republicans.
  • TVW | TVW broadcasts floor and committee action live online.
  • The Ledger | A legislative news aggregator.
  • Legislature’s website | Bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature here.
  • State agencies | List of all state agencies, boards, and commissions here.
  • Participating in the Process | Information about how you can participate in the legislative process

Thank you!

Please contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or comments. I work for you all year long and I encourage your feedback. I am here to serve you and everyone in the 4th Legislative District.

It’s an honor to serve you.


Leonard Christian

State Representative Leonard Christian, 4th Legislative District
122C Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7984 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000