Washington State May Ban Firearms from the State Capitol

State capitol building in Olympia, Washington.

State capitol building in Olympia, Washington. Shutterstock/Nadia Borisevich


Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Kentucky legislature may ban sanctuary cities … City in Arizona may be billed by state for higher minimum wage … West Virginia considers grease pit legislation.

Following an unpermitted demonstration by pro-gun rights activists who crowded into the Washington state capitol armed with firearms, the state legislature will consider a bill to ban guns from the capitol grounds. Last week, a group of about 250 people, many of them openly carrying rifles and other large guns, assembled in the state capitol in support of state Rep. Matt Shea. Shea, a Republican, has been suspended since December when a House investigation determined that the lawmaker planned domestic terrorism efforts. Now, the legislature will consider a bill that would ban people from open carrying weapons on capitol grounds. The bill was introduced by state Rep. Mike Chapman, a Democrat and former law enforcement officer who said that this case was not about the Second Amendment but about public safety in government spaces. He called the demonstration last week disturbing. “These people are fully armed. They had weapons slung over their shoulders, some were wearing masks, full camo gear … Many kids’ tour groups were here. They were trying to flee the Capitol as quick as possible. We had about 15 State Patrol officers who were called out … This was somewhat of a siege,” he said. House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, a Republican, said he would not support the bill. “We’ve had decades of peaceful Second Amendment rallies,” he said. State Rep. Tana Senn, the bill’s cosponsor, said that protestors created an “unsafe work environment” and further demonstrations would discourage participation in government. “They were all over the building and they were, frankly, intimidating people whether they meant to or not, that was definitely the reaction. People were scared,” she said. [Radio Pacific; Oregon Public Broadcasting; Seattle Times]

SANCTUARY CITIES | The Kentucky state legislature is considering a bill that would ban municipalities from declaring themselves “sanctuary cities,” a term for policies that discourage local law enforcement from assisting federal law enforcement on immigration-related issues. The bill would also cover state agencies and public employers, but makes exemptions for domestic violence shelters, public defender offices, public schools, and health departments. Sen. Danny Carroll, the Republican sponsor of the bill, said that state and local employees should be helping federal law enforcement. “If we send a message that we are going to allow sanctuary for criminals, they will come to our state,” Carroll said. Louisville has been a sanctuary city since 2017, when the city blocked police officers from assisting federal immigration agents on immigration and deportation matters unless a judge had signed a warrant or there was an immediate danger. Jean Porter, a spokeswoman for Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, said that the policy has already been cleared with the federal government. “Louisville is both a welcoming city, and our policy has been found to be in compliance with federal law. We believe [the proposal to end sanctuary cities] sends a terrible signal to the world and would prove a deterrent to businesses looking to locate here, talent seeking to move here, and tourists who might visit,” Porter said. [WKYU; Forward KY]

MINIMUM WAGE | The city of Flagstaff, Arizona may have to pay the state government more than $840,000 over the next two fiscal years to cover the state’s cost of the higher local minimum wage. Last year, the state legislature passed a measure targeting Flagstaff when the city raised the local minimum wage to $12 per hour. The law requires that cities with a higher minimum wage than the statewide standard must reimburse the state for its costs associated with the higher wage, such as higher salaries for local employees of state agencies. City Management Analyst Jack Fitchett told the Flagstaff City Council that the $840,000 price tag is only an estimate. “It’s ever evolving and that’s why we need to preface this with the fact that these are estimates, because in a week from now we could see totally different things,” Fitchett said. Vice-Mayor Adam Shimoni said that he worries about a “really slippery slope” where agencies charge the city for all wage increases by blaming them on the higher minimum wage. [Arizona Daily Sun]

GREASE PITS | The West Virginia state Senate unanimously passed a bill that would increase the fines on restaurants that fail to secure the lids of grease pits, holes that are filled with grease and oil to keep the substances out of sewers. The legislation was inspired by a five-year-old girl who recently fell into a grease trap, at least the fourth such incident involving children across the country since 2017. Two of the accidents were fatal. One of those incidents was in Alabama, where the state legislature has since passed legislation to require more secure grease trap covers. West Virginia’s legislation would require outdoor grease pits to have a locked manhole cover designed to withstand weight.  “We need to take every measure possible to ensure the public’s safety,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Glenn Jeffries. [Bristol Herald-Courier]

BAG OF DRUGS | The Florida Highway Patrol arrested two men suspected of drug trafficking after troopers pulled them over for speeding and found drugs in a bag labeled “Bag Full of Drugs.” The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the search of the car and found methamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA, and fentanyl. “Note to self—do not traffic your illegal narcotics in bags labeled ‘Bag Full Of Drugs’. Our K-9’s can read,” the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office posted on social media. [WFLA]

Emma Coleman is the assistant editor at Route Fifty.

NEXT STORY: The Cities Where Car Accidents Happen Most Often