Rep. Jenny Graham begins 2023 legislative session by sponsoring three public safety bills

'Our families, parents, and children need to feel safe in their communities. Right now, many of them do not,' says Graham

The 105-day 2023 legislative session began this week in Olympia with legislators, staff and the public in attendance for the first time since the end of the 2020 session. Due to COVID protocols, the majority party in the Legislature decided to have remote and partially-remote sessions the past two years.

Rep. Jenny Graham, R-Spokane, said she was glad to see the public gallery and the House floor full of legislators, staff, and the public as the session kicked off on Monday.

“This is the peoples' house,” said Graham. “It is awesome to once again see people visiting and testifying in committees and state legislators doing their jobs in person. The personal interactions and the presence of the people helps keep legislators attentive and accountable.”

Graham, who represents the 6th Legislative District, will serve on several committees this year. She is the assistant ranking member on the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee, and also a part of the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee, and the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.

As a veteran, she is excited to also sit on the Joint Committee on Veterans' and Military Affairs, and the Public Records Exemption Accountability Committee.

Graham wasted no time in highlighting one of her top priorities this session: protecting her communities.

She sponsored three public safety bills this week.

The first, House Bill 1160, creates an aggravating circumstance for criminals who mutilate or dismember their victims.

“I was shocked to learn that burning or mutilating a corpse was only a misdemeanor,” said Graham. “There have been cases where victims' bodies have been mutilated and dismembered to hide the evidence. If someone is going to go that extra step of dismemberment or mutilation, there is premeditation and forethought; there is a level of planning; there is also the potential for serious mental health issues. We need to give prosecutors more tools to increase the penalties for the most violent criminals.”

Her second bill, House Bill 1161, eliminates the ability for violent criminals who use a firearm in their crimes to be eligible for earned early release credits.

“It makes no sense to me when some people want to attack law-abiding gunowners on one hand, yet they advocate for the early release of criminals who use firearms on the other,” said Graham. “There should be no opportunity for earned early release credits for violent offenders who use firearms in their criminal activity.

“We need to crack down on the criminal, not the tool the criminals use,” said Graham. “The vast majority of gun violence is being committed by those who should not legally possess firearms. We need to send a clear message and make violent criminals pay for their actions.”

Finally, House Bill 1162 would expand the offenses and penalties for the manufacture, sale, and distribution of certain controlled substances.

“According to the Washington State Department of Health, overdose deaths in 2021 in our state have risen by 66 percent from 2019,” said Graham. “We are way ahead of the national average. We need to take seriously the damage done to our communities by those who sell, manufacture, and distribute controlled substances.”

Graham said that her priorities this session are to thoughtfully address the state's housing and homelessness crisis, help make life more affordable, and help make her communities feel safe.

“Our families, parents, and children need to feel safe in their communities,” said Graham. “Right now, many of them do not.”

The 2023 legislative session began January 9.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov