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From pickleball to police reform, new Senator John Lovick is no stranger to politics

John Lovick is the first Black male state senator since 1991.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — One of the newest state senators has served in Olympia for decades.

Senator John Lovick, who made his first Senate floor speech Wednesday, was first elected to the House in 1998.

“Wow. What an incredible honor it is to serve with all of you,” Lovick told Senators Wednesday.

Lovick is the first Black male to serve in the state Senate since Sen. George Flemming in 1991. 

Wednesday marked the first time Lovick took the floor of the Senate this session. He had been working remotely after testing positive for COVID in early January.

Snohomish County Council members voted to have Lovick replace fellow Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs after Hobbs was appointed Secretary of State last year.

Lovick’s first Senate bill, making pickleball the state’s official sport, overwhelmingly passed off the floor of the Senate Wednesday afternoon.

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It now heads to the House following a 46-1 vote in the Senate.

Another issue Lovick will be working on this year is expected to be more contentious: reforming laws passed last year that changed how police enforce laws.

After the implementation of a series of bills signed into law in 2021, including some sponsored by then-Representative Lovick, police said elements of the laws were confusing, and as a result, prevented officers from apprehending or pursuing suspects in certain situations.

Lovick, and other legislators, are working on changes to some of the laws.

“Sometimes there are things we just don't get right, and on some of those we probably didn't get them right,” said Lovick.

Proposals being debated this year include allowing police to use force more often, clarifying what forms of “less-than-lethal” tools can be used, and increasing the number of crimes that justify a police pursuit.

Lovick said he is “not a big fan” of pursuits, so he doesn’t know if he’ll back the move to allow more police chases, but he does support calls for allowing the detention of more suspects.

“We have to be able to make sure that a person just can’t, in essence, walk away,” said Lovick.

Lovick’s first day in the Senate reminded him of his first day in office in 1999, when his 90-year-old grandmother, Elsie Lee Lovick came to the House of Representatives to witness it.

“My grandmother couldn’t visit the state Capitol in Louisiana,” said Lovick, “That was very special.”

While she has since passed, Lovick said he felt her presence again Wednesday.

“She’s looking down on me, wishing me well,” said Lovick.

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