Bill Would Expand Access to Fentanyl Testing, PubliCola Updates Seattle Employee Directory

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1. As King County hit a demoralizing new record of 1,019 overdose deaths in 2022—a jump of nearly 30 percent over the previous year—a Republican state senator has introduced a bill that would make it easier to access test strips that can indicate the presence of fentanyl in drugs.

As PubliCola has reported, fentanyl is now the default opioid for drug users in King County, a trend that has driven the huge spike in overdoses. Even people who don’t seek out opioids can be at risk, because drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine can be contaminated with fentanyl. Test strips, which can detect the presence of fentanyl in a small amount of a drug, are an essential part of harm reduction efforts, but state law still classifies them as prohibited “drug paraphernalia,” limiting their availability.

Last year, GOP state senator Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, filed a bill that would have changed that designation, but it died in committee. This session, Sen Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor, reintroduced the legislation.

Muzzall told PubliCola that while substance abuse has always been an area of concern for him, it’s also a personal issue. Muzzall is friends with Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki, whose son Patrick died of a fentanyl overdose in 2017 after becoming addicted to pain pills. Muzzall says he knew Janicki’s son and that his death made a deep impression. 

“When a mistake like that leads to having to bury your child.. . well, that emptiness never goes away,” Muzzall said. “And that was a tragedy that was brought about by a prescription of Oxycontin. The liability lies with the pharmaceutical industry that led up to that. And it’s just invading our communities.”

Janicki has been a vocal advocate for Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s successful lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, which will add $476 million to the state’s harm reduction and treatment efforts over the next 17 years. 

The fentanyl test strip bill is an essential part of those efforts, Muzzall said. “It’s just silly that we don’t make these as easily accessible as possible,” he said. “This bill will take the criminality out of providing them.”

Muzzall, who says fatal overdose is a behavioral and mental health crisis that will likely cost the state a billion dollars to address, is working alongside Democratic Sen. Annette Cleveland of Vancouver on a number of bills to address the issue, and hopes to successfully move the test strip bill through committee this time around.

“If an individual is compassionate, bipartisanship comes easily,” he said.

2. In 2021, then-mayor Jenny Durkan’s information technology department took the public-facing directory of city employees offline, removing a vital resource that allowed members of the public and journalists (as well as city of Seattle employees themselves) to contact people who work at the city. Public employees’ contact information is a matter of public record, and keeping this information secret violates a long tradition of transparency that persists in other government entities across the state, from King County to the entire State of Washington.

Durkan, who falsely claimed the directory would be online again in a matter of months, is no longer in office, but her successor, Bruce Harrell, has made no moves to restore this resource. The former city employee directory website is now a static page with links to a list of the city’s official media relations officers, the websites of various city departments, and the city’s data portal (which does not contain the directory).

Because we believe the city directory is a valuable public resource, PubliCola has taken it upon ourselves to maintain an updated database of city employees and their contact information ourselves. Here’s the latest searchable and downloadable version, with information current as of January 5, 2023. We will continue maintaining and updating this database until and unless the city of Seattle decides to put theirs back online.

—Andrew Engelson, Erica C. Barnett

11 thoughts on “Bill Would Expand Access to Fentanyl Testing, PubliCola Updates Seattle Employee Directory”

  1. Around the same time that the City removed the directory they also deleted thousands of entries in the Open Data Portal. There were all sorts of detailed databases on subsidized housing that I used to cite that suddenly disappeared. Now it’s a pretty limited resource.

  2. “Here’s the latest searchable and downloadable version, with information current as of January 5, 2022.”

    Is this a typo or is this version a year old?

  3. Itd be nice if more legislators pushed for drug treatment funding instead of just test strips.

    1. Yeah, I don’t know if test strips are going to really save many lives. I don’t think Narcan is going to either. Drug treatment certainly does help, but that actually costs real money. The State Government has no intention of spending enough money to make a dent in addiction and/or homelessness. Test strips are just another cop out. Just like Narcan. Just like safe injection sites. All these are just rich Liberals looking for something on the cheap. Mainline drug abusers often need a year in treatment to stay clean. No way the State, (or Seattle) would actually pay for that. And what happened to all that taxes from legal weed? Up in smoke.

      1. Tacomee, you are lacking basic facts. The state has put up hundreds of millions of dollars for homeless housing in recent years. The Governor has proposed a $4 BILLION ballot measure (because it must be voter approved) for housing, which includes more money for homeless housing. Do we need drug treatment centers? Absolutely. Is the State solely responsible for helping correct personal behavioral problems? Absolutely not.

      2. I think the notion that anything broken can be fixed by giving money to the right person is faulty
        .Social ills are often created by shortcomings in accepted practices with regard to varied human value systems.. To consider humans as a uniform duplication of some entity is inaccurate. And so rarely works…
        Homelessness is 1) affordable housing but more importantly..2) is a quest for Freedom from the status quo.. I think humans need and crave that…Not good news for those in a position of power to maintain personal gains offered by supporting the status quo…

      3. feistybrain,

        Nope, I think I know the facts here. There are at least 10,000 hardcore drug users running the streets of Seattle… these aren’t the type of folks who turn up for any sort of homeless count so it’s hard to tell the actual number. Runnin’ and gunnin’, scrammin’ and jammin’ Most of them mainline or smoke Fentanyl and/or P2P (dl-methamphetamine). Most of them are psychotic, most of them do not have the ability to make rational choices, many have suffered brain damage do to drug use. Fun fact– any time Narcan is used to to reverse an overdose, at least minor brain damage occurs. Use 2-3 doses of Narcan? The poor addict likely lost 10 or more I.Q. points. These drugs are nothing like booze or pot… they are way stronger than any drug that come before. People who use this shit are likely never going to right again. The only words that really can describe a long term addict living on the street is fucked up. Likely fucked up forever.

        It doesn’t matter what I think of these poor bastards… or what you think. Seattle is stuck with them. So where do we go from here? Prison ? commitment into a psych ward? drug treatment? Something has to give at some point. After smoking fetty for 5 years living in tent, we’re not looking a sane person who can take care of themselves. And yet, they’re still a person. Is a shelter bed going to help them? How about an apartment? Not without wrap around services that cost big bucks.

        The City government has promised to spend millions and millions on housing many times before. How’s that working out? I wouldn’t hold my breath for State to bail Seattle out. Or the Feds. Seattle needs to stand up and fix this mess.


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