Rep. Griffey, Rep. Couture frustrated over limited testimony at initiative hearings, talk to 35th District sheriffs on pursuit

Rep. Dan Griffey and Rep. Travis Couture are shocked and frustrated with Democrats limiting public testimony at public hearings for I-2081 (parental rights) and I-2113 (police pursuits).

“Over 400,000 Washingtonians signed the pursuit initiative, many of them came to the public hearing hoping to be heard on how the increase in car thefts and crime in general has impacted them since the restrictions on pursuits took effect a few years ago,” said Griffey,” R-Allyn. Instead, they were met with what appeared to be an orchestrated effort by the majority party to limit public testimony.”

“Democrats burned roughly 30 of the 60 minutes in the hearings for both the parental rights and police pursuit initiatives by asking pre-canned and dilatory questions designed to restrict testimony from the public,” said Couture, R-Allyn. “That is a sad disrespect to the people of Washington.”

WATCH: The public hearing on the police pursuit initiative here

Couture is a Republican member of the House Education Committee – the committee that co-chaired the hearing for the parental bill of rights initiative with its Senate counterpart.

Griffey is the assistant ranking member on the House Committee on Community Safety, Justice , and Reentry, which hosted the joint hearing on the reasonable police pursuit initiative with the Senate Law and Justice Committee on Wednesday.

With such limited testimony, many who attended the hearing were not given the opportunity to speak, including all 35th District sheriffs.

All three sheriffs serving the 35th District were in Olympia to testify about the pursuit initiative and share the negative impact those restrictions on pursuits have had on their communities but the clock ran out on the hearing before they got the opportunity. Instead, Thurston County Sheriff Derek Sanders, Kitsap County Sheriff John Gese , and Mason County Sheriff Ryan Spurling met with 35th District representatives Couture and Griffey after the hearing to share their thoughts in a video message.

WATCH: Rep. Griffey, Rep. Couture join 35th District sheriffs for a video message on the pursuit initiative here

The majority had only scheduled a one-hour public hearing for each of the three initiatives in the final days of the legislative session. Roughly half of that hour was taken up by questions from Democratic lawmakers designed to waste time. In the end, only eight people were able to provide testimony on reasonable police pursuits. Testimony included the initiative sponsors, representatives of law enforcement groups, police best practices experts, and two women: a mother who says the new restrictions on police pursuits are to blame for her 12-year-old daughter’s death, and a mother who blames police pursuits for her son’s death.

More than 5,300 people signed in in support of the pursuit initiative. Just under 200 signed in opposed.

Couture said while more people had an opportunity to testify at the public hearing on I-2081 , the parental rights initiative, public testimony also appeared orchestrated and limited.

“These initiatives were signed by hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians who want a voice on these issues,” said Griffey. “The way these hearings were handled is disrespectful to those people, and highly disappointing.”

“I am frustrated with the fact that only three of the six initiatives to the Legislature even got hearings, and those hearings were not prioritized at the start of session  as the state constitution demands, but instead Democrats hear only three just a week before the end of the session,” said Couture. “Over 800,000 voters signed the six initiatives to fix what Democrats have broken due to their failure to listen or compromise, and unfortunately we have seen this radical mentality play itself out in harmful ways over the years to the detriment of the citizens of Washington.”

Rep. Griffey and Rep. Couture are fully committed to passing all six initiatives and demand that they be brought to the House Floor immediately for a YES vote.

All of three initiatives to the Legislature that got hearings this week are scheduled for executive session Friday, March 1.


Washington State House Republican Communications