Big win for rural Washington!

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

Report from Olympia |  January 24, 2018


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It was quite the emotional roller coaster last week here in Olympia -- with several ups and downs and twists.

As you will read below, the legislative community, as well as the state, suffered the loss of a former governor and a beloved longtime House staffer, while the Palouse lost a young and rising star.

It was also a difficult week for conservatives at the Capitol. During the five years that the Majority Coalition governed the Senate, we were able to stop a number of bills that would have harmed Washington families and small businesses.

With a one-vote majority in both the House and Senate, the new leadership has wasted no time trying to force through policies that will appease groups in downtown Seattle at the cost of your religious liberty, constitutional rights, and even your family budget.

In the first full week of committee action, the Legislature heard a number of bills that go after your Second Amendment rights, while doing nothing to truly improve safety, reduce crime or address violence. The new majority in the Senate has also begun moving bills that interfere with parental rights, seek to abolish the death penalty, mandate abortion in all insurance coverage, and radically alter our election system. They also continued to push the governor’s energy tax on fuel and electricity.

Last week, however, ended with some great news. On Thursday night, the Legislature finally approved a remedy for the disastrous Hirst decision -- the Supreme Court ruling that made it nearly impossible for rural families to have a small household well. The ruling essentially brought a halt to rural residential construction and drove down property values. 

Although the Senate passed a solution to this problem four times last year, the House refused to act. We held our ground -- refusing to pass a capital budget -- until a solution was reached. We held strong, and we won! Both the Hirst fix bill and the capital budget passed.

If you have questions about how the new Hirst fix impacts you, or anything else related to the Legislature, please give our office a call at (360) 786-7606 or send me an e-mail at

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



Senator Mike Padden

Local chamber visits Olympa

Left to Right is Kelly Fukai of Schweitzer Engineering, Sen. Padden and Katherine Morgan of Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce.

I was glad to welcome members of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce to Olympia, including chamber President and CEO Katherine Morgan, and vice chair Kelly Fukai of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

The Chamber is dedicated to promoting community vitality and economic prosperity, and serves businesses and organization members in the cities of Spokane Valley, Millwood and Liberty Lake and unincorporated areas of Spokane County.

On Wednesday, I updated several GSI members on education issues, including efforts to support charter schools and enhance quality education.

It’s always good to see faces from home. Hearing from the citizens of the district directly also helps me to better represent the 4th District. If you are planning a trip to Olympia, please call my office. We would be happy to welcome you to YOUR Legislature.

A big win for rural Washington

While not perfect, the approval of a Hirst fix will allow rural Washington property owners to begin developing their land.


The Hirst remedy we adopted (Senate Bill 6091) is a compromise, because no side got everything it wanted. However, it’s generally a big win for rural Washington, because the Supreme Court had left rural landowners without any good options for moving forward on putting in a well to support a new home. And for the better part of this past year, House leaders in Olympia didn’t seem to care that Hirst was devastating lives all across our state.

Even though I am now a member of the minority, our side held together to demand a fix. We asked the question: "Why should the state be allowed to build, when rural property owners could not?" In the end, both the House and Senate realized the importance of adopting a solution that works for most of Washington. 

Capital budget contains major wins for the 4th District

Capital budget includes $816,00 for the HUB Sports Center Capital Campaign.

Once the Senate and House approved the Hirst solution, we quickly went ahead and moved the capital budget on through Thursday night. The governor signed it Friday.

Broadly, the $4.2 billion worth of investments is geared toward education and toward helping people with mental illness. The level of support for building, renovating or modernizing K-12 facilities is historic, at more than $1 billion. Also, the new capital budget includes $860 million in total appropriations for higher-education facilities, split almost evenly between the community and technical college system and the public four-year institutions.

Mental-health needs, another priority for our caucus, will receive $132 million, divided between community behavioral health projects and state hospital projects (approximately $90 million and $42 million respectively).

Here are highlights from the 9th District investments in the new capital budget:

The plan provides nearly $38.65 million in funding for several 4th District priorities, including:

  • $816,00 for the HUB Sports Center Capital Campaign;
  • $556,000 for the Appleway Trail Amenities;
  • $100,000 for the Honor Point Military and Aerospace Museum;
  • $581,000 for CHAS Health Spokane Valley Dental Clinic;
  • $2.18 million for Mount Spokane - Maintenance Facility Relocation from Harms Way; and
  •  $83,000 for the Pinecroft Natural Area Aridland Forest Restoration.

There is also more than $30 million for new school construction in the Central Valley School District.

I am glad I was able to get these important projects for our communities included in the final budget, which was adopted 49-0 in the Senate, and 95-1 in the House.

Sad news

In Memory

It’s been a gloomy time here in Olympia, and not just because of the gray skies and constant rain of Western Washington. The legislative community lost a great friend and colleague when John Gower passed away last weekend.

John provided legal counsel to House Republican Caucus members for 30 years, including during my time as a representative. He was always one of the hardest-working and most principled people in Olympia, and many of us who served during John’s time in the Legislature will miss him dearly. He was more than just a colleague, or even an institution; for many of us, he was a friend.

A week ago Monday night Washington lost an Olympia icon. John Spellman, our state’s 18th governor – the last Republican governor and the first King County executive – died at age 91. You can read more about Governor Spellman and his legacy below.

Unfortunately, more sad news came with reports of the apparent suicide of WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski. According to a report by the Seattle Times, police were asked to check on Tyler at his apartment in Pullman after he did not show up for a workout earlier in the day. Officers found Tyler dead in his apartment of an “apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.”

By all accounts, Tyler was an extraordinary young man – a student-athlete who was beloved by family, teammates, friends and the whole WSU community. My prayers and condolences go out Tyler’s family and all of those grieving his loss.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). In an emergency, dial 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.

John Spellman, Washington’s last Republican governor, dies

By Jim Camden, Spokesman-Review | Jan. 16, 2018

Sen. Padden meeting with Governor Spellman in 2015

John Spellman, an affable pipe-smoking lawyer who was Washington’s last Republican governor, died Monday at age 91.

Spellman, who served 12 years as King County’s first county executive, was elected governor in 1980 as Ronald Reagan’s presidential victory gave Republicans control of the Legislature and the executive mansion.

State Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, was elected to the state House the same year Spellman won the governor’s race. He’s the only member of the current Legislature to serve when Spellman was governor.

Click here to read the full article.

Law and Justice Committee hears debate over anti-Second Amendment

The Senate Law and Justice Committee recently held a two-hour hearing on several bills aimed at restricting Second Amendment rights:

  • Senate Bill 5992, which would enact a state ban on bump stocks and other trigger modification devices that help disabled sportsmen shoot with greater control or ease;
  • Senate Bill 6049, which would ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds;
  • Senate Bill 5444, which would require enhanced background checks for buying so-called assault rifles – an ambiguous and often misused term;
  • Senate Bill 5463, a bill that would make it harder for individuals to protect themselves in their homes, by mandating specific gun-storage requirements; and
  • Senate Bill 6146, which would allow cities and counties to restrict Second Amendment rights and make it more difficult for law-abiding gun owners to know and obey the law.

Nearly 1,000 people signed in as supporting or opposing these bills – a big number for a single committee hearing. The Law and Justice Committee received 1,500 emails on the subject as well. I personally heard from many of you who are outraged that the new majority is using its one-seat advantage in each chamber to go after our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Click here to watch TVW’s coverage of the Law and Justice Committee hearing on gun bills.

On Friday, the Senate passed the so-called Washington Voting Rights Act of 2018. This particular bill, Senate Bill 6002, may have an altruistic title, but the actual details of this measure are very disturbing, and are actually more likely to harm the communities that its sponsors intend to help. The measure now goes to the House for its consideration. Below is a column I wrote for the Inlander a couple of years ago, describing my concerns with this legislation.

We’re already covered

The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 makes a state law unnecessary

The admirable cause of civil rights is being misused by partisans in the progressive camp as a tool to bash Republicans. We saw it happen  in an opinion column headlined “Blockin’ the Vote: How Republicans in Olympia continue to fail our democracy” — as if one party opposes discrimination and the other is in favor. It is a simplistic argument founded on thin air, parroting one of the nobler phrases of the civil rights era — and it is one of the most cynical wedge issues ever devised.

Washington really does have a Voting Rights Act. You’ve probably heard of it — it is called the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This law was passed by Congress, not the state Legislature, but it applies in all 50 states. Over the last half-century it has done an outstanding job of eliminating blatant forms of discrimination, like poll taxes and literacy tests. It also covers a more subjective form of perceived discrimination, the use of at-large voting or redistricting that could make it harder to elect minority political candidates.

Click here to read the rest of my commentary on the Washington VRA.

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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