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King County judge kills initiative to ban safe injection sites, Bellevue bans sites

An initiative to ban safe injection sites will not be on the ballot.
Lawmakers visited a safe injection site and treatment center in Vancouver B.C. Photo: Lisa Herbold.

A King County Superior Court judge ruled on Monday that Initiative 27, which would prohibit funding and operation of safe injection sites, is invalid and cannot be on the ballot.

Judge Veronica Alicea Galvan cited Washington state law, which says local legislative bodies have the authority to determine budgets, and I-27 “impinges” on legislative authority of the county.

“I-27 in its entirety extends beyond the scope of the local initiative power,” Galvan wrote in the ruling.

Galvan also wrote that state law gives governing officials decision-making authority on public health measures, and I-27 interferes with the health board and County Council’s duties and obligations.

However, Galvan wrote that the court was not issuing an opinion on whether the injection site proposal should be implemented.

On the same day, Bellevue city council members voted unanimously to ban safe injection sites permanently after implementing a temporary ban in August.

Mayor John Stokes admitted it is unlikely a safe injection site will come to Bellevue, "but that's not good enough," he said.

Member Kevin Wallace even called for the state legislature to intervene "before the county does any more damage."

Other cities including Renton, Kent, Auburn and Federal Way have voted on similar bans.

The King County Board of Health approved a recommendation in January for two safe injection sites, which would allow people to consume drugs under medication supervision. Critics say the proposal would enable drug users.

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