Wrapping up the 2018 Session

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

Report from Olympia |  March 6, 2018


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We have just two more days to wrap up our work for this year’s regular session. Friday was the final “cut-off” to approve bills that originated in the House of Representatives. Final votes are still ahead on the budget and bills that are necessary to implement the budget, which are exempt from cut-off dates.

There is still much work left to be done as budget leaders from both the Senate and the House will have to come together to reconcile the varying proposals to produce one supplemental budget that can be agreed upon by both chambers and gain the governor’s approval.

Unfortunately, it appears that the majority caucus leaders in both the House and the Senate have decided to pass a purely partisan budget, and are choosing not to work with those of us on the other side of the aisle. That will not keep me from advocating for the people of our district.

Already, we’ve seen the majority drop its demand for a new energy tax. You can read more about that below. Hopefully, we will see more good news before the session ends on Thursday.

I’ll keep you updated, but in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.


Senator Mike Padden

Senate honors Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories

The Senate adopts Senate Resolution 8705, honoring Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and the Schweitzer family. From L-R: Gary Chandler, vice president of Government Affairs for the Association of Washington Business, Senator Mike Padden, Kelly Fukai of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Kris Johnson, president and CEO of the Association of Washington Business.

On Friday the Senate adopted my resolution honoring local employer Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, SEL President Edmund O. Schweitzer and his wife, Beatriz, for their dedication to the community and philanthropy.

Ed and Beatriz have consistently demonstrated both the resilience of America’s ingenuity and the strength of its compassion, and we are immensely grateful for the work they have done in our community.

Senate Resolution 8705 highlights the amount of jobs and revenue Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories has brought to Pullman and soon to the Spokane Valley. SEL has recently expanded its Pullman facility, creating an additional 850 jobs. Its new facility in Spokane Valley will employ 75 people, with SEL employment in Spokane growing by 26 percent each year since 2012. SEL is also an international leader in engineering and technology systems, employing more than 5,200 people worldwide.

The Schweitzers represent something we should all strive for: community commitment, generosity, and a dedication to good old hard work. I encourage you to read the full resolution to learn more about the great work done by the Schweitzers and SEL. You can do so by clicking here.

Police body-camera bill passes House, moves on to governor


On Thursday, in a vote of 95-2, the Washington State House of Representatives approved Senate Bill 6408, my bill aimed at clarifying the rules surrounding the use of police body cameras.

Overall this is a balanced bill that supports truth and accountability, while protecting privacy and decency in the process.

SB 6408 will make permanent the existing requirements and Public Records Act provisions governing body-worn cameras and apply them to all law-enforcement and corrections agencies deploying body-worn cameras. The bill also will strengthen privacy protections for intimate images in such recordings, and clarify record-retention requirements for body-worn camera recordings.

The bill now goes to Governor Inslee for his consideration.

    In The News: Washington Governor Admits Energy Tax Defeat


    Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Gov. Jay Inslee in Olympia last month to help push the governor's carbon tax proposal. (AP/Ted S. Warren)

    Even with the state Senate finally in control of his own party, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee still couldn’t find the votes for his long-hoped-for carbon tax, he said Thursday.

    …A carbon tax would, of course, raise the prices of gasoline, electricity and myriad other products that depend on burning fossil fuels when they’re manufactured. Raising the prices of goods is a sensitive issue in Washington, which has no income tax and thus relies heavily on sales taxes to fund its government.

    …Inslee’s carbon tax has stalled in the legislature previously, in part, because Republicans controlled the state Senate when Inslee took office in 2013. That left Inslee and other environmentalists to seek other avenues. The governor sought an administrative fix when he rolled out a Clean Air Rule that would have included emission fees for large polluters, but a judge struck that down late last year. In 2016, Washington voters rejected a ballot measure that also would have imposed a carbon tax.

    Click here to read the full report.

    Good news on winter snowpack makes drought conditions less likely


    The snowpack across Washington, and especially here in eastern Washington, remains in good shape, starting the month of March with all basins in the state at near to above normal for the date.

    This amounts to great news for water users in the state, but experts are still voicing caution. Snowpack typically peaks across the state during March or April, depending on which region in the state you’re in.

    The federal Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting (SSWSF) Program, under the direction of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), conducts snow surveys and develops water supply forecasts for the western U.S. With the vast majority of water in the West coming from the melting of winter snowpack, data on snow provides information critical to water managers, agriculture, dam operations, municipalities, recreationists, and other businesses.

      In Closing…

      open gov

      Over the past couple of weeks, I have heard from many of you with thoughts or concerns about Senate Bill 6617, also known as the Legislative Public Records Act.

      I was not comfortable myself with the way SB 6617 made its way through the Legislature, but I wanted to explain to you why we acted with such speed.

      In his Jan. 19 decision, Judge Chris Lanese held that the offices of individual lawmakers should be viewed as separate government agencies. If his ruling stood as issued, it would mean:

      • Creating 147 new state agencies (one per lawmaker), each with its own administrative code;
      • Potentially hiring new staff, available 30 hours per week (even during interim) to answer records requests; and
      • Current legislative staff would be prohibited from assisting with this effort.

      Senate Bill 6617 is in response to this unworkable decision. The bill would have made more documents available to disclosure than ever before, and would have been a big step towards greater transparency.

      On March 1, Governor Inslee vetoed the bill in its entirety, as part of a deal worked out with the Democrats and the media.

      As part of that deal, a work group is being formed to create a public-records system for the Legislature that is not only transparent but protects the privacy of constituents who have shared personal information with us.

      I will keep you informed as this issue progresses.

      Please do not hesitate to contact our office with your questions or comments. Remember, I am your voice in Olympia.


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