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

Report from Olympia |  March 15, 2018

Spokane Valley sunrise

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The 2018 legislative session is over. The 60-day session ended on time and with the most bills (317) passed since 2008. Of course, as you know, quantity does not always equal quality, and that was certainly not the case this year.  

If I could sum up this session in one phrase, it would be “missed opportunity.” If there ever was a perfect time for state government to give taxpayers a break, this was the year. With nearly $2.4 billion more in additional revenue than we expected since the operating budget was adopted this past July, there should have been plenty to cut property taxes, reduce the business-and-occupation tax for our manufacturers, and invest in education, mental health and protecting our vulnerable, all while still maintaining a healthy emergency reserve.

Rather than take this approach, majority-party budget writers chose to raid the constitutionally protected rainy-day fund, using a budget trick that has been called a “felony gimmick.” Property taxpayers got only token relief, and not nearly enough has been saved for a rainy day.

You can read more about this and other important issues below.

Thank you for all of your feedback, support and communication during the session. I will continue my work on your behalf over the interim, and I will continue to send you these reports from Olympia – although not on a weekly basis.  

Please stay in touch if there is any way my office can be of help to you. Our Spokane Valley district office is located at 408 N. Mullan Rd., Suite 106, and our number is 509-921-2460. My legislative assistant, Janet, will be here Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We are here to serve!


Senator Mike Padden

VIDEO: The majority’s end-run around the initiative process

Click here to watch my speech on the floor of the Senate chamber.

One of my chief frustrations this session was the way the new Senate majority seemed determined to twist and torture – and sometimes completely circumvent – Washington’s constitution in order to get its way. A key example of this was the Legislature’s response to Initiative 940, an initiative to the Legislature regarding police use of deadly force.  While the negotiated policy – House Bill 3003 – is a big improvement over the initiative in terms of policy, I could not support the majority's use of a convoluted scheme to deny the public a right to vote on our changes to their initiative. Click on the link above to hear more about my concerns. You can also read the following column from Jim Camden on the matter.

In The News: Compromise on deadly force a mockery of process

By Jim Camden, in The Columbian | March 14, 2018


When legislators are sure they have a great idea, they might look for ways to make it happen, regardless of the rules they have to bend...

Some people really didn’t want Initiative 940, which defines how to handle law enforcement cases involving deadly force, to go on the November ballot.

The state constitution gives lawmakers three choices: Pass it, and it becomes law; ignore it, and it goes on the November ballot; come up with a better idea, and that becomes a competing initiative on the same ballot with the original.

None of those seemed like a good idea to legislators, the law enforcement community and the initiative’s main sponsors.

They wrote up a series of changes to the initiative that all sides could live with. But they didn’t turn it into a separate initiative. They wrote it as a bill to change the law that the initiative would become, if they passed it. They wrote the workaround to take effect one day after the changes would take effect.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, made an impassioned defense of the initiative process, noting the three ways the constitution tells the Legislature to deal with initiatives the voters send it. If lawmakers want a fourth method, they need to amend the constitution, he said.

Even if everyone on both sides of the deadly force issue thinks this is a great idea, amending an initiative this way sets a bad precedent that could allow future Legislatures to gut any ballot measure they get, he said. His amendment to turn the contents of the bill into a competing initiative failed.

Click here to read the full column.

Sen. Mike Padden on KVI radio

(with host and former Republican gubernatorial candidate John Carlson) 

On the day after the Legislature adjourned, I joined John Carlson on his popular conservative radio show to discuss the compromise deal by the Legislature to lower the legal criteria for charging police officers in fatal shootings.

Listen to it here (starts at 23:43 and ends at 30:43):

Bigelow Gulch-Forker Road project underway

$9.4 million improvement project to create safer interchange, spur economic development

ground breaking

On Tuesday, I joined the Spokane County Commissioners and other state and local officials at the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Bigelow Gulch and Forker interchange project, which has been 20 years in the planning.

The $9.4 million project, which will include widening a section of Bigelow Gulch Road and creation of an overpass, is the next phase of the Bigelow-Forker Urban Corridor plan to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion between Spokane and the Spokane Valley.

Not only will these improvements enhance public safety, reducing fatal accidents, they will also make it easier for freight traffic to move through the region, which will have a major impact on jobs and economic development. 

    Closing days of the legislative session produced a mixed bag

    New taxes avoided, but constitutional process takes major hits from new majority

    Senate floor
    Sens. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, and Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, discuss legislation with Sen. Padden.

    This session will go down as one of the most disappointing on record. The new Senate majority seemed to go out of its way to ignore the state constitution – using a budget gimmick to work around the voter-approved requirement that extraordinary revenue be deposited in a rainy-day fund. Its leaders also chose to subvert the initiative process, using a creative, but dubious, trick to deny thousands of initiative signers their right to vote on any changes to their initiative. And if that all wasn’t bad enough, the transparency of government took a major hit in a bill aimed at forcing home health-care workers – often people taking care of their own severely disabled family member – to spend limited dollars on paying dues to a labor union.

    In addition to the process issues, the new majority pushed an aggressive social agenda – passing an abortion insurance mandate, paid surrogacy and a number of other bills that take aim at the family and society.

    And despite predictions of receiving $2.4 billion more revenue than budget writers expected to have, the Legislature failed to give property owners full and real relief from a one-year tax spike caused by the school funding plan adopted last year. Nor did the Senate and House majorities provide the comprehensive, statewide B&O tax relief our state’s non-aerospace manufacturers deserve.

    The supplemental budget also spent too much and saved too little. 

    budget chart

    There was some news of a more positive nature:

    • A bipartisan agreement on a fix to the Supreme Court’s 2016 Hirst decision, which had limited rural access to household water and all but halted property development;
    • No new energy tax on gas and home heating;
    • Attacks on our Second Amendment were – for the most part – defeated;
    • New investments in mental health and school safety were approved;
    • An attempt to abolish the death penalty without public input failed; and  
    • Despite another attempt in the House, the Legislature did not have the votes for a new income tax on investments.

    Scholarship opportunities available

    Students in our district have a great opportunity to apply for one of several scholarships available in our region. Please take a look at the three scholarship programs below, and pass this information along to any students you may know who would be interested.

    •  The Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce Foundation has a number of scholarships intended for CTE (Career and Technical Education) students from Central, East and West Valley school districts as well as Freeman. Current seniors or past graduates are eligible. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.
    •  The annual Focus Award recognizes high-school seniors who exhibit exemplary post-secondary preparation through commendable efforts in their Career and Technical Education programs. These students have distinguished themselves as possessing outstanding personal employability qualities and outstanding professional, technical and career skills. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.
    • Boeing is proud to partner with Washington STEM to host a STEM Signing Day that will recognize, celebrate, and lift up high-school seniors who are interested in pursuing a degree or career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Students will sign "letters of intent” to their chosen STEM field.  
      Date: Monday, April 23, 2018
      Location: Museum of Flight, 9404 E Marginal Way S, Seattle
      Time: 11 a.m.- 1:30 p.m.
      Deadline: Applications should be submitted no later than March 23, 2018.

    2018 Government Guide now available

    2018 Government Guide

    Last year you may have received our 4th Legislative District Government Guide in your mail. This year, to save taxpayer money, we have not mailed the 2018 update to the guide, but have made it available online instead.

    This 4th Legislative District guide to government provides information on how to contact federal, state and local government offices and services. It also has some great information about our legislative district and some of the institutions and people that make it such a great place to live, visit or start a business.

    To get your online copy of the guide, click here or on the image to the right.


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