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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Are safe injection sites treatment options, or not?

An issue can get a very different treatment in the House and the Senate. This was evident Thursday and Friday, as the chambers took up one of the difficult topics of 2017: Dealing with opioid addiction.

On Thursday afternoon, the Senate spent three-quarters of an hour debating a bill designed to keep Seattle from setting up “safe injection sites” for people addicted to heroin and other opioid products. Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, said to do so would “literally turn Seattle and King County into the heroin capital of America.” While no one questioned his use of literally, Democrats argued these facilities, proposed by local public health experts, were not indoor shooting galleries for heroin junkies but places where people with different types of opioid addiction could come for treatment and counseling.

After a pretty passionate debate, Miloscia’s bill passed 26-23, with all Republicans and two Democrats deciding this shouldn’t be a treatment option open to local officials.

Friday morning, the House took up a separate bill on opioid treatment. It didn’t mention safe injection sites. Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, thought it should, and proposed an amendment saying that no way, no how should they be allowed.

The amendment was challenged and ruled “outside the scope” of the bill’s title by the Democratic speaker pro tem, which is kind of a legislative way to say injection sites are NOT connected to opioid treatment. The bill, without any reference to or prohibitions against safe injection sites, passed fairly quickly.

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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