(Olympia, WA) -- A bill that would tighten penalties for possession of illegal drugs fentanyl, methamphetamine and heroin had a public hearing in the State Senate Law and Justice Committee Tuesday.

Senate Bill 5035 is sponsored by 4th District Senator Mike Padden. It makes posessing illegal drugs, a Class C Felony, with an opportunity to participate in drug court.

Sen. Padden, a Republican from the Spokane Valley, in crafting the bill, said  "we need to fix this crisis, and Senate Bill 5035 would help us do that, including a chance for offenders to go into drug diversion programs.”  He added "we need the proper leverage to get those people into treatment. A misdemeanor charge won’t compel them to get into treatment as much as a felony charge.”

Sen. Mike Padden-Photo Washington Senate Republicans
Sen. Mike Padden-Photo Washington Senate Republicans

SB 5035 is scheduled to receive a vote in the Law and Justice Committee on Thursday.

The State Department of Health says 2,264 people in the state died of a drug-related overdose in 2021, compared to 1,731 overdose deaths in the state in 2020 and 1,259 in 2019.

The Biggest Rock + Metal Moments of 1983

These were the biggest events in rock and metal in 1983.

Gallery Credit: Lauryn Schaffner

See the Must-Drive Roads in Every State

Gallery Credit: Sarah Jones


More From 610 KONA