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News > Advocacy > Cutoff Creates a Narrowed Legislative Focus

Cutoff Creates a Narrowed Legislative Focus

We are now two-thirds of the way through the legislative session, and are now left with a much more focused list of issues to work on.
16 Feb 2024

We swiftly passed the halfway point and the house of origin cutoff point. In fact, we are now two-thirds of the way through the legislative session. This means that a lot of bills have been filtered out of the process because they were not passed out of the house in which they originated prior to the cutoff date. Therefore, we are left with a much more focused list of issues to work on.

We are still faced with a couple of resentencing bills. As we have frequently noted, we don’t focus on the policies of these bills but rather on the fiscal impact on local government that is created by the policies in these bills. One such bill is 2SHB 2001 which provides judicial discretion to modify sentences for those convicted of a felony offense if they meet specified criteria. The other bill is E2SHB 2065, which requires the recalculation of individuals currently incarcerated whose offender score was increased based on juvenile convictions. Both of these bills would require counties to conduct resentencing hearings without the appropriation of funds for this newly created service. That means that counties would be responsible for the costs associated with the time and service provided by prosecutors, public defenders, judges, court clerks, and other court-related staff without sufficient funding. In addition, these cases will be competing for docket time that is already greatly constrained due to court backlog. The state needs to pay for the costs of these new services.

A couple of bills that we support continue to move through the process. The legislature is proposing to fully fund basic law enforcement training at the Criminal Justice Training Academy (CJTA) via SB 6242. The bill has been sent to the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. Another bill deals with public defense and prosecution. That bill, 2SSB 5780, requires the Office of Public Defense (OPD) and the CJTA to administer a law student rural public defense and prosecution programs in underserved and rural areas of the state. The bill also requires OPD and CJTC to expand their criminal defense and prosecutor training programs beyond their current capacity. This is a good bill that will make a small, but meaningful, impact on our current criminal justice system.

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