Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, ranking Republican on the House Public Safety Committee, expressed serious concerns in the last week of December about a new bill that would reduce penalties for murder resulting from drive-by shootings in Washington state.

House Bill 1692 would eliminate drive-by shooting as an aggravating factor in a first-degree murder case, under RCW 10.95.020. In most cases, life imprisonment is the most severe penalty imposed in Washington state.

The bill also would apply retroactively and provide for the vacation of previous convictions for aggravated first-degree murder and resentencing for first-degree murder without the penalty associated with the aggravating factor. The measure was prefiled on Friday, Dec. 23 for introduction in the 2022 legislative session.

Mosbrucker, R-Goldendale, issued this statement regarding the legislation:

“Violent crime is on the rise in our communities, in part, because law enforcement officers do not believe under new laws passed by the Legislature earlier this year that they have the authority to detain or pursue individuals, for whom they reasonably suspect have committed criminal acts. It was reported during the summer that at least nine drive-by shootings in the Yakima area this year have left a trail of injuries, deaths and traumatized neighborhoods. This horrific crime is happening more and more across our state, taking the lives of innocent victims, destroying their families, and leaving neighborhoods and communities in fear.

“This bill would remove an important tool from prosecutors. And just as concerning, it would re-open past convictions so that violent criminals would have their sentences reduced.

“What about the victims and their families? Where is their justice in this bill? Where is our compassion for them?

“This legislation does nothing to make Washington safer and, in fact, would put the public at further risk to violent crimes. We need to reject this bill and put the safety of our communities first by ensuring that those who commit murder by drive-by shooting remain eligible for the maximum penalty under state law. We also need to stand firm and send a message to violent criminals that they will be held accountable.”

The 2022 legislative session began Monday.