The Greater Grays Harbor Chamber held a wrap-up presentation on the 2023 Legislative Session this past week. Presenting were Rep. Jim Walsh (R-19-Aberdeen), Rep. Mike Chapman (D-24-Port Angeles), and Senator Jeff Wilson (R-19-Longview). U.S. Chamber of Commerce representative Chris Eyler also presented from the national political front. Representatives from the 19th and 24th Legislative Districts are known as the “Coastal Caucus” because their districts encompass the entire Olympic Peninsula, from Neah Bay to Ilwaco.
WR has worked closely with members of the Coastal Caucus (CC) for many years and long partnered with the U.S. Chamber on national and local issues.
Overall, the session ended well for Grays Harbor and the Olympic Peninsula. Of note were several transportation and capital budget appropriations that directly benefit citizens in those areas. Notably, the construction of a highway overpass above an active rail line stands out. This development will enable uninterrupted motor vehicle movement, even as numerous trains navigate into and out of the harbor vicinity.
The well-attended luncheon attendees at the Rotary Log Pavilion event came away with a sense of true bipartisanship on most issues. The Coastal Caucus has three D and three R members, and they have a good working relationship, enabling them to get things done.
The carefully negotiated drug possession and use law passed during a special session this past month was highlighted during the presentations. The so-called “Blake fix” bill—referring to the Washington State Supreme Court decision that essentially decriminalized drug possession and use—received overwhelming support by both D’s and R’s in both the House and Senate. WR was a strong advocate and supporter of the “Blake fix” to help those struggling with substance use disorders to receive treatment and hopefully break the cycle. Retailers realize that often these individuals are preyed upon by organized retail crime rings that recruit them to commit retail theft and other crimes.