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

Report from Olympia |  June 5, 2018

felt field
I enjoyed attending Felts Field Neighbor Day on Saturday.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you and your family had a thoughtful Memorial Day Weekend, and that your summer is off to a pleasant start.

Memorial Day is often celebrated as the start of summer with barbeques, parades and trips to the beach. For those who do try to uphold and honor the true meaning of the day, there sometimes is confusion about what that meaning really is. While Armed Services Day recognizes those currently serving in our military and Veterans Day recognizes those who have served in the past, Memorial Day is specifically a day to reflect on those members of the military who have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their life for their country.

This continues to be one of the busier interims (the months between legislative sessions) we have seen in recent years. Court cases continue to be big news, with the public challenging the way the majority in Olympia addressed raiding the state’s rainy day fund, properly enacting initiatives, funding local transportation projects, open records, and charter schools.

While the nation sees record low unemployment, our state economy continues to grow, as new revenue numbers indicate. We continue to work for the development of our local economy, through improvements to transportation corridors.

You can read about some of these issues in this Report from Olympia.

If there is anything I can do for you, or if you have questions about anything in this e-newsletter, please give me a call or send me an e-mail. We are here to serve!


Senator Mike Padden

Lawmakers take tour of Washington’s rail system

rail tour
Donald Purdie, President of the Eastern Washington Gateway Railroad, Senator Padden and the transportation policy specialist for the Senate Republican Caucus.

Last Thursday, I joined several lawmakers from across the state on the Washington State Legislative Rail Caucus tour of the Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad.

The Palouse River and Coulee City Railroad is the longest short-line freight rail system in Washington, serving five eastern counties: Grant, Lincoln, Spokane, Adams, and Whitman. Over the years, the Legislature has made substantial investments in the rail system through the capital budget, with the hope that that the rail expansion will aid in economic development along the short lines.

The tour included a presentation by the Northwest Grain Growers, a briefing on train safety, a review of the Highline Grain Growers and a tour aboard a locomotive from Reardan to the Inland NW Rail Museum, wrapping up in Spokane at the state Grain Commission Office.

The short lines are a tremendous boost for agriculture, as well as a critical aid in reducing traffic and wear on local roadways and highways.

Verdict expected for early-release killer

Critically important reforms still needed at state Department of Corrections


Jeremiah Smith, one of the thousands of prisoners released ahead of schedule by the state Department of Corrections, killed 17-year-old Cesar Medina of Moses Lake in a 2015 shoot-out at a Spokane tattoo parlor. Late last week, Smith received a bench trial in Spokane County Superior Court. A verdict is expected any day now.

Smith had been released from the Washington State Corrections Center in Shelton 12 days before the shooting, and should have remained in prison for another three months.

More than two years after the disclosure of the deadliest agency-management failure in Washington history – the early release of some 3,000 violent and dangerous felons – the state prison agency still lacks an adequate process for Corrections employees to express concerns about agency managers without fear of retaliation.

The Legislature this year passed a bill creating an “ombuds” office in DOC, but only for prisoners and their families, not for employees. Until employees feel free to speak up about management practices, we risk another disaster. Unfortunately, some people in state government appear threatened by that.

Gov. Jay Inslee objected strenuously when the Senate chose to conduct its own investigation. We found much evidence that agency managers and the governor’s office dropped the ball. When we put forward a comprehensive reform bill last year, after overwhelmingly passing the Senate, the governor’s office effectively quashed it in the House of Representatives on the final day of the session. The governor never did tell us why he objected.

I can understand the sensitivity, but public safety is at stake. We’ve gotten lip service and half-measures. Jeremiah Smith’s trial is a demonstration of the deadly consequences of inaction, and a reminder that important reforms have been left undone.

State revenue continues to grow with latest collection report

The state’s bipartisan Economic and Revenue Forecast Council is tasked with producing a quarterly prediction of state revenue based on in-state housing construction and real estate transactions, as well the price of oil, the pace of the national economy and other factors.

The council’s latest report on revenue collections – not a forecast, but the dollars actually taken in – recently came in $80 million ahead of expectations.

This information continues to support the position that there is no need for new taxes – like a state income tax or Governor Inslee’s energy tax.  In fact, I continue to believe that now is the perfect time to start seriously considering giving tax relief to families and employers. 

Supreme Court hears arguments on charter schools


Last month, parents and other supporters of charter schools went before the state Supreme Court to defend the alternative public schools from legal challenges brought by the Washington Education Association, other unions and anti-charter school activists.

Their main argument is that charter schools divert public funding away from traditional public schools and towards a system, which lacks public accountability.

As the Yakima Herald-Republic recently pointed out, “charters are not about to topple the public school system.” Of the approximately 1 million students enrolled in Washington’s K-12 public schools, only about 2,400 are in one of the state’s 10 charter schools in Tacoma, Seattle, Kent and Spokane.

Supporters of charter schools pointed out that programs, such as Running Start, also operate without a school board, and having a school board is not a constitutional requirement.

Rebecca Glasgow, an attorney for the state, argued, “Charter schools serve at-risk students, some of whom — many of whom — are now excelling in a public school for the first time.”

In fact, many charter schools not only serve minority students, but also have an over-representation of minority teachers and faculty.

As the Yakima Herald’s editorial board rightfully declares, “charters won’t solve all of education’s problems, but they can serve as a laboratory for finding better ways to educate students.”

In the News:

Freeman finally reaches peak by knocking off King’s Way Christian

By Michael Anderson | Spokesman-Review


Michael Coumont had come to Yakima seven times with Freeman High School teammates in search of state championships in basketball and baseball. Three times he’d been on the losing end of state title games in basketball.

There was no way, he told himself Saturday afternoon, that was happening one more time.

Coumont put on a brilliant display of pitching to contact for the Scotties (24-3) as they knocked off defending champion King’s Way Christian 6-2 to win the State 1A baseball championship at County Stadium.

The win was cathartic for the young men on the team and for a boisterous supporting community…

Note: Kudos to Coach Chad Ripke and the Freeman Scotties Baseball team!
Click here to read the full story.

In the News:

Spokane Valley nearing 100,000

By Will Campbell | Spokesman Review


Spokane Valley is growing quickly. It’s on track to break the 100,000 mark, and is growing faster than Spokane. It posted a 2.1 percent growth spurt between 2016 and 2017, while Spokane grew 0.93 percent. If you look at the span from 2010 to 2017, Spokane Valley grew 8.68 percent and Spokane grew 3.64 percent.

“What really matters for population growth is having an economic reason for people to be here,” said Grant Forsyth, chief economist at Avista Corp. He said the housing market’s recovery and more employment opportunities are causing more people to move to Spokane.

Whether the population growth is good or bad, Forsyth said, depends on how well the city has planned for it, and everyone has his or her own opinion. Transportation and water usage are the issues he said might become bigger for Spokane.

Click here to read the full story.


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