35th district lawmakers call governor’s veto of restrictions on placement of sexually violent predator homes in communities outrageous

Lawmakers in the 35th District are appalled by Gov. Jay Inslee’s veto of language in the state operating budget that would have required notice before the placement of sexually violent predators (SVPs) in low-security group homes in communities across Washington.

“I am extraordinarily frustrated by the governor’s partial veto,” said Senator Drew MacEwen, R-Shelton. “In his message he cites the proviso as being ‘administratively burdensome.’  Our communities rightly expect to be kept safe, and this proviso was intended to help in that effort.  To suggest that that is too burdensome of an obligation is frankly abhorrent.  It is time for this administration to step up and be engaged in protecting our communities and look at overhauling a bureaucracy that is failing.”

“This dangerous, tone-deaf veto is unacceptable, “said Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn. “It not only prioritizes sexually violent predators over public safety, but it also completely ignores the voice of communities that have spoken loud and clear on this issue.”

“This veto completely disregards public safety needs – it’s that simple,” said Rep. Travis Couture, R-Allyn. “For the governor to reject this common-sense reform requiring public notice before placing dangerous sex predators in neighborhoods because it would burden a state agency that has a long record of failure is indefensible. It also proves just how right our communities are to be worried about the safety of their families when it comes to placing sexually violent predator homes in their neighborhoods.”

The budget provisos vetoed by the the governor would have required the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to provide local government officials with notice and an opportunity to comment before placing a sexually violent predator home within their communities. The same notice and opportunity for comment also would have been extended to federally recognized Indian tribes before a sexually violent predator could be placed within one mile of a reservation.

The budget language was an effort by House Minority Leader Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, to respond to a statewide problem that hits home in the 35th Legislative District, where a proposal for a sex-predator home near Tenino touched off community furor and a protest at the Capitol. A similar situation unfolded in Enumclaw with neither community receiving notice until shortly before placements were to occur.

In Tenino, the pushback from the community eventually helped defeat the effort to site a facility there as the developer ultimately pulled out.

“The fact that public notice is not already a requirement before DSHS can place these homes in a community is appalling and – again – dangerous policy,” said Griffey.

The 35th district delegation was quick to proposed legislation to address the issue early in the 2023 session aimed at putting restrictions on the placement of sexually violent predators in communities.

Senator MacEwen sponsored Senate Bill 5544 aimed at closing the public notice loophole.

Rep. Couture sponsored the companion bill House Bill 1734 to close the public notice loophole.

Rep. Griffey and Rep. Couture co-sponsored House Bill 1813, which would have placed a three year moratorium on the placement of sexually violent predator homes in communities. It would also have created a robust workgroup to take a deep dive into the issue and eventually make recommendations on an improved system that balances the constitutional rights of sex predators with public safety.

None of the bills received hearings.

After the moratorium bill failed to advance, Reps. Griffey and Couture sent a letter to Gov. Inslee asking him to use his authority to order a moratorium on the placement of SVP homes in communities.

The governor has yet to respond to that March 1 letter.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov