OLYMPIA — The state House Republican Caucus has removed Rep. Mike Hope from the Judiciary Committee, a move some Democrats say was retaliation for the moderate member joining with them last year to support universal background checks for gun sales.
Hope, a former Seattle police officer from Lake Stevens, was replaced on the committee by the more conservative Larry Haler, a Hanford contractor from Richland.
The change, which was made at the beginning of this year’s legislative session, likely doomed the prospects of several bills establishing more gun restrictions — including the chances of Initiative 594 being approved in the Legislature instead of going to the November ballot.
The initiative, which would expand background checks to cover all gun sales, is similar to a bill that moved through the committee last year on a 7-6 vote, with Hope voting yes and moderate Tacoma Democrat Steve Kirby voting no.
The bill eventually failed, leading to the initiative that is going first to lawmakers and then, if it does not win approval there, to the voters. …
[Tacoma Democrat Laurie] Jinkins acknowledged that “Mike not being on the committee makes it harder” for Democrats to pass universal background checks or other measures related to gun restrictions.
But she said she has chosen not to hold a vote on Initiative 594, not because she doesn’t think it could pass her committee but because she doesn’t think it could pass the overall divided Legislature.