Griffey, Couture host telephone town hall
Talk guns, Belfair Bypass
March 16, 2023
Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, and Travis Couture, R-Allyn, hosted a telephone town hall for 35th District constituents Friday, talking about the legislative session and matters that have an effect on Mason County residents, including police pursuits and the Belfair Bypass.
Couture shared his thoughts on his first legislative session, saying he’s been enjoying the “chaos of it all.”
“I kind of thrive in that environment. It is fast-paced and before you know it, it’s already the end of the day and the end of the day for us is usually around midnight,” Couture said. “What was interesting is that we go, you start off the session doing your committee work and hearing a lot of bills and doing executive session voting those bills out of committee and then you hit the legislative policy cutoff and then everyone goes to the floor for all the floor votes, then the floor speeches so that’s what we did the last week and a half or so. Those are very long nights and I haven’t really seen my family that much in that time, but it’s really important work that we’re doing down here and I’m just very pleased with my other caucus members, how professional they are, how much they care about their individual districts and all the people in Washington state and how much they will give to fight for every single one of us and I’m proud to join that group and be a part of that.”
The legislators answered questions from callers, including a caller that asked about the police pursuit laws and fentanyl.
“The simple answer is the majority party limited the police, they took away reasonable suspicion for when law enforcement engages and that standard is a reasonable officer believes that a crime has been committed,” Griffey said. “That allows our police officers to be proactive in policing. So we have some hope that a bill will get out on police pursuit this year. The Senate was able to do a ninth order motion and get a watered-down version of the bill out. We’re going to continue working on that but unfortunately, the majority party, they have taken away those powers from law enforcement officers. Both Rep. Couture and I really care about that issue and we want our police officers to be proactive. We just need some more votes.”
Couture talked about EHB 1209, a bill sponsored by Griffey, that would make it a felony offense to possess, purchase, deliver, sell, or possess with intent to sell a tableting machine or encapsulating machine that will be used to potentially make illegal drugs.
When asked by the Journal about some of their biggest accomplishments that will affect Mason County residents, Griffey touted EHB 1209 “as a big deal,” as well as some capital budget requests.
Couture, who is on the Capital Budget Committee, said those requests include a new jail with larger capacity.
“But not just any jail, a jail with wrap-around services for mental health proceedings,” Couture said. “We’re trying to look into the future about what does a jail of the future look like and how does it serve people all in our region? Because as we know, during COVID, we just didn’t have the capacity, especially with the COVID rules around jails. That will help our law enforcement with their number one ask.”
Couture talked about some housing and infrastructure bills that passed out of the House that will also benefit Mason County residents.
“The median income of someone in Mason County, it’s just not enough to qualify for a home in Mason County right now,” Couture said. “I think I speak for most of us when I say I want our kids to be able to have a chance to live in Mason County and start a business here and grow here and not have to move somewhere else because of the lack of ability to realize the American dream and have housing. We’ve been working hard on that issue as well. I think those things are going to pay dividends for Mason County.”
A survey was taken to see what the most important issues are with the 35th District, and the number-one answer was crime and feeling safe in the community, followed by property tax relief and inflation as the biggest issues.
“Unfortunately with the laws that were passed, there’s an emboldened criminal behavior because they do believe there’s no consequences for their actions. They believe they can just commit a crime and run from police and police are not allowed to pull them over,” Griffey said. “We had two incidences in the 35th District where a criminal was evading police officers and actually called 911 and complained that they were chasing them because that was against the law.”
House Bill 1240 was asked about. The bill, which passed out of the House March 8, is about establishing firearms-related safety measures.
Griffey said he was trying to get rid of the first paragraph of the bill, which the person who asked the question said the phrase “hyper masculine” was “ridiculous” and “very disrespectful.”
“It’s unconstitutional, that bill. If we’re going to write a law that is unconstitutional, we shouldn’t put such horrible language in there, offensive language, the hyper masculinity,” Griffey said. “The attempt was to remove it from the entire intent language out, but we’re going to be lobbying the Senate to strike that out. Actually, we’re lobbying them to not run the bill at all but if nothing else, let’s have a cleaner bill that doesn’t have such offensive language in it.”
Here’s the paragraph that Griffey said he finds “offensive”:
“The Legislature finds that the gun industry has specifically marketed these weapons as ‘tactical,’ ‘hyper masculine,’ and ‘military style’ in manner that overtly appeals to troubled young men intent on becoming the next mass shooter. The Legislature intends to limit the prospective sale of assault weapons, while allowing existing legal owners to retain the assault weapons they currently own.”
Couture answered another person’s question about gun rights, saying the Bruen decision, which was a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June 2022 that New York’s law requiring a license to carry concealed weapons in public places is unconstitutional, will hopefully stop the gun bills that have been passed in this year’s Legislature.
“There are private groups that are already ready to defend you and your Second Amendment rights, and we believe they will be effectual,” Griffey said.
A question was asked to the legislators about the Belfair Bypass. Griffey, who is on the transportation committee, said he put in a request to ignore Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed transportation budget and go back to the original funding.
“It looks like we’re going to get there. I want to knock on wood because I want this so bad, I can’t hardly stand myself so I figure if I talk about it, that it might not happen,” Griffey said. “Good movement is happening there. I believe that we’re going to get where we want to get with the initial money being spent on bypass for land acquisition in this calendar year. Keep the good wishes going and hope and prayers but it looks like we’re making progress.”
Couture added to that, saying one of the first things Griffey, Sen. Drew MacEwen, R-Shelton, and Couture did was sit down with the state Department of Transportation and “grilled them for like an hour about how we can put this thing back on track again.”
“We came up with some very clever things and very excited about the possibility but don’t want to jinx it,” Couture said.
Other topics talked about include drugs, preying on the elderly, bipartisanship, carbon offsetting, affordable housing and helping school districts.