OLYMPIA -- Tri-City advocates claim Gov. Chris Gregoire wrongfully is holding the developmentally disabled as political hostages to put pressure on budget negotiators.
On Tuesday, Gregoire announced she would continue to hold off signing several bills until lawmakers pass a budget.
Among the legislation Gregoire has refused to sign is Senate Bill 6157, which would require counties to implement an intake and risk assessment standard for handling developmentally disabled suspects in juvenile detention.
Sharon Adolphsen, coordinator of the Benton Franklin Parent Coalition for Developmental Disabilities, told the Herald that juvenile detention processing, including pat downs, putting on handcuffs and being questioned, can cause added stress and conflicts.
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"If this was the type of bill that impacted the budget, then I would understand putting a hold on it. But it isn't," she said.
Judy Westsik, executive director of The Arc of Tri-Cities, told the Herald that SB 6157 would address the challenges a juvenile-detention center must overcome to properly treat the developmentally disabled.
Westsik said it's unfair for the rights of more than 3,000 developmentally disabled Tri-Citians to be jeopardized because of unrelated budget negotiations.
Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, sponsored the juvenile detention bill and supports many other bills, such as one opposing human trafficking, that Gregoire has yet to sign.
He said the political move is petty and he will not encourage budget negotiations to move forward.
Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, told the Herald, "Sen. Delvin is trying to do something good for the citizens and children of Washington state and (the governor) is going to hold his bill hostage? It's irresponsible."
But Gregoire has said the move is necessary to put pressure on budget writers to work together.
She said conversations with legislative leaders this week have been improving. They are substantive, not political, she said.
But party leaders have not made enough progress, she claimed.
While leaders continue to work on the budget, the majority of lawmakers have returned to their districts to wait for something to vote on.
-- Eric Francavilla, a Herald intern from Washington State University, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.