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In Session: police pursuit, gun bills survive cutoff deadline

Several high-interest bills survived a legislative deadline on Wednesday.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Bills dealing with new gun restrictions and police pursuits survived a legislative cutoff deadline Wednesday.

A bill that would lower the threshold required for law enforcement in Washington state to engage in a vehicular pursuit passed the Senate on Wednesday.

The approval by the Senate follows the House rejecting a vote on a similar bill earlier this week.

Senate Bill 5352 would allow a police officer to engage in a pursuit if they have "reasonable suspicion" a person has committed or is committing a violent or sexual crime, domestic violence cases, escape, and driving under the influence.

The requirements that a pursuit must be necessary in order to identify or take a person into custody, that a suspect must pose a serious risk of harm to other people's safety and an officer having to receive authorization from a supervisor would be eliminated from state law. Instead, officers would have to notify a supervisor of a pursuit.

The bill now moves to the House.

If approved, the bill would change the existing law, passed in 2021, that only allows for the pursuit of DUI suspects with reasonable suspicion and only allows for pursuits with probable cause for violent, sexual and escape charges.

Gov. Jay Inslee urged legislators to get the bill to his desk for signature.

”I think we need to move this needle. I think that’s where the public is. That’s where I am. I think the provision that has come out of the Senate is realistic and it’s meaningful consider and I hope the house will carefully consider it. And pass it,” said Gov. Inslee.

House members debated two gun bills late into the evening on consecutive nights.

Tuesday, they passed House Bill 1143, requiring guy buyers to pass a gun safety course and a background check. They would also have to wait ten days before being able to receive their weapons.

Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill banning the manufacture or sale of guns defined as “assault weapons.”

House Bill 1240 became the first bill banning the sale of those weapons to pass off the floor of the house or senate.

Neither of the bills received any votes from Republicans.

Both bills now head to the Senate, where Minority Leader Sen. John Braun said it appears Democrats can pass the bills without any Republican support.

“Democrats have a strong majority,” said Braun, (R) Lewis County, “If they have a will to pass these types of bills that I think fly in the face of our state and our federal Constitution, and in recent rulings, they have a political power to do that.”

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