What we face in the 2018 Session

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106 Newhouse Building ● P.O. Box 40404 ● Olympia WA 98504-0404

Report from Olympia |  January 12, 2018


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2018 session is underway, and although we have only been in Olympia for a few days, I have much to share with you. Already lawmakers have started work on issues that affect both our state and our district, from addressing the ability of rural property owners to develop and enjoy their property to issues affecting your Second Amendment rights.

As I mentioned in my previous e-mail to you, this session marks the first time in five years that Democrats have had unilateral power in Olympia – with single-vote majorities in both the House and Senate and control of the Governor’s Mansion. This week Governor Inslee rolled out his agenda in one of the most predictable State of the State addresses I have ever heard. He called for more taxes – including a new tax on energy. He called for more restrictions on Second Amendment rights. He said he would push for a statewide abortion-insurance mandate. Governor Inslee rattled off support for automatic voter registration, abolishing the death penalty, and taxpayer funded abortion for illegal immigrants.

We will have our hands full protecting you, your wallet and your rights this session, but you can be sure I will continue to stand up for the values and principles you sent me to Olympia to represent.

I am looking forward to working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle this year and taking action on issues that will benefit people all over Washington, especially right here in the 4th District.

If you have questions about anything in this report, or anything else related to the Legislature, please give me a call at (360) 786-7606 or send me an e-mail at Mike.Padden@leg.wa.gov.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you in the Legislature.



Senator Mike Padden

Meet the 2018 Team Padden

2018 Team Padden

If you visit Olympia while the Legislature is in session this year, please do not hesitate to stop by our office and say hello. We are located in 106 Irv Newhouse Building. This year my legislative assistant is Janet Voye, my session aide is Thomas Trull, and my session intern is Karlie Lodjic.

Janet was part of the team when I was first elected as a Representative, from 1981-1984, and joined my Senate staff this past year. She lives in Spokane and runs the district office in Spokane Valley during the “interim” between legislative sessions. 

Thomas was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, the second of seven kids. He graduated from Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, graduating in 2015.

Karlie grew up in Sedro-Woolley and is a junior at Western Washington University in Bellingham, studying political science.

House Democrats push Washington ‘Voting Rights Act’ in Week 1


On Tuesday, just the second day of the legislative session, House Democrats held a hearing on House Bill 1800, which would create a so-called state "Voting Rights Act.”

This bill, modeled after a similar law in California, would make it easier to sue and win, regardless of whether real discrimination is taking place within elections, or if changing the boundaries of political/electoral districts would actually improve anything. As in California, it would likely lead to over-inflated judgments, which municipalities and school districts would be forced to pay using taxpayer money.

A 2015 analysis of 25 lawsuits filed under the California law showed that at least $13.8 million of public money was paid to plaintiffs’ attorneys in cases against everything from school boards to hospital districts.

Should the Washington bill be adopted, the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake, Spokane County and numerous other municipalities would be at risk of having their election systems uprooted and thrown into utter chaos. The measure could lead to forced redistricting and the use of controversial alternative voting methods.

Testifying on the bill, Secretary of State Kim Wyman said that she is concerned about the use of the alternative voting methods, calling them “theoretical models that have not been used in U.S. elections.” She added, “Each of these systems is complex and costly.”

TVW -- Wyman
Click here to watch TVW coverage of Sec. of State Kim Wyman's testimony on the Washington VRA.

I do not believe HB 1800 is necessary because the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 applies to Washington just as it does in all fifty states. Over the past half-century, that Voting Rights Act has done an outstanding job of eliminating obvious forms of discrimination like the poll tax, or literacy tests. The federal law also covers more subjective forms of perceived discrimination, such as the manipulation of at-large voting and/or redistricting to quash the political power of minorities.

Given that the goals of HB 1800 are already achievable under the federal act of 1965, there is no reason to think that this local legislation would be an improvement – indeed, it is likely to cause more problems than it would fix.

Inslee energy tax would add 20 cents per gallon of gas and raise utility bills

Tax would hit local employer Kaiser Aluminum


The centerpiece of Governor Inslee’s 2018 legislative agenda is the creation of a new energy tax. What he calls “carbon pricing” is really a tax on home heating and fuel. This energy tax would not be constitutionally protected and dedicated to a specific purpose, the way Washington’s gas tax must go toward paying for roads. Instead, it would create revenue for the state to spend however it sees fit, while carving out exemptions for some at the expense of others – effectively picking winners and losers.

According to Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center, the $1.5 billion energy tax would add 20 cents per gallon of gas, which would balloon to 6% per year (3.5% plus inflation). So by 2029, the tax would be about 36 cents per gallon.

WPC highlights that Inslee’s energy taxes would hit gasoline, natural gas for home heating, and electricity. “Home electrical and natural gas prices, too, would rise under Inslee’s plan,” writes Myers.  “NW News Network reported that the governor’s staff estimates a 5 percent average increase in residential electricity prices and a 10 percent increase in residential natural gas prices. Much of the revenue would be dedicated to subsidies for electric cars and solar panels, which overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy.”

Finally, WPC points out that energy-tax schemes like the one proposed by Governor Inslee have often led to a slowing of the economy and the loss of jobs.

“Since 2012, the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. increased by 5.4 percent,” the non-partisan researchers point out. “By contrast, the number of manufacturing jobs fell by 3.8 percent in the nine states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI. The RGGI states lost, repeat, lost jobs.”

One of the hardest hit businesses would be Kaiser Aluminum in Spokane Valley and the steelworkers it employs.

Contact us

If you have a question or concern about state government, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We are here to serve you!


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