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Michael Medved


Rep. Stokesbary wants safe injection site supporters to go on record


Last week the state House passed a significant piece of legislation to address the opioid crisis. Republican Rep. Drew Stokesbary added an amendment that also prohibited partnerships between the state and safe injection sites. Rep. Stokesbary has come under attack by critics for including this, and joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss it.

“The underlying bill is a big omnibus bill that involves the state’s response to the opioid epidemic,” he said. “It talks a lot about ways we can prevent opioid abuse in the first place, and then ways we can deliver treatment to those suffering from addiction.”

“My amendment simply says that the state can’t be partnering with any local jurisdiction that offers safe injection sites as part of the state’s own opioid response plan. I think House Republicans are united in believing that the best solution we have is to provide more treatment. It’s really confusing to me why we would be wanting to go down a path of supervised injection sites, when we haven’t yet done all we can do in terms of delivering treatment services.”

RELATED: Seattle planned safe injection site needs another $2.5M in funding

The amendment appears to target the city of Seattle, which has budgeted $1.5 million for a safe injection site. The city is looking at many options, including a mobile site that would travel around the city, seven days a week, 10 hours a day.

Much of the criticism is that Stokesbary is politicking, since the amendment would force Democrats to go on the record for safe injection sites, but he finds this criticism a tad odd, because going on record about issues is part of the job.

“We have one job as elected representatives, and that is go on the record and take votes for policies. Sometimes we like those policies, sometimes we don’t,” he said. “So this idea that it’s somehow underhanded to ask people to take a vote when their job is to take votes, it’s a very strange criticism.”

RELATED: City of Seattle still needs funding for safe injection site

“The other strange part is since these injections sites were first proposed by a King County task force four years ago or so, there has not been a single instance in which democracy has been allowed to ‘break out’ on this issue.”

Stokesbary says proponents of safe injection sites should stand behind their support, instead of obfuscating on an issue they know isn’t popular. Sixty members, including a third of the House Democratic Caucus, voted for the amendment.

“If folks think this is such a good policy — and there are some people in downtown Seattle that think it’s a great idea — well then what’s so bad about taking a vote saying we think it’s a good idea?” he said. “But I think it’s not such a good idea, and I think most voters know that and most elected officials know that.”

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