Is the Washington agency that is the watchdog of more than 500 drug and alcohol treatment centers tough enough on problem clinics?

That’s the question that the Washington House Committee on Health Care and Wellness took up Tuesday.

The committee is considering SB 5705, which would place new requirements on DSHS’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR).

“It is offensive to me that DBHR has ignored the bribery and not taken (its investigations) even further,” bill sponsor Sen. Randi Becker (R-Eatonville) told committee members at a Tuesday hearing in Olympia.

Becker’s bill would limit DBHR’s ability to reach settlements with problem drug and alcohol clinics.

In its Sobriety for Sale series, KING 5 has reported how DBHR has dropped serious charges against treatment clinics and counselors and allowed them to continue operating after clinic owners threatened legal action.

The series showed that DBHR had evidence that counselors at some clinics were accepting bribes from clients who were ordered by the courts to receive treatment. Those counselors falsely reported to the court that those clients were in compliance with their treatment. DBHR often dismissed these cases or struck settlement agreements with minimal fines.