Victory for charter school families

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

Report from Olympia |  November 8, 2018


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The state Supreme Court continues to issue high-profile decisions. Sometimes, as with the recent ruling affirming the constitutionality of charter schools, it’s a welcomed relief for Washingtonians. Other times, however, we are faced with decisions that make it harder for victims to receive justice and closure. You can read more about the most recent rulings below in this issue of Report from Olympia. 

There is also an article about the Shared Hope International conference I attended. Numerous victim advocates, social workers, members of law enforcement and others fighting against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children were in attendance. I am working to craft new legislative solutions we can implement right here in Washington to protect our children.

If you have questions about any of the issues discussed in this newsletter, please feel free to contact my office. I am here to be your voice in Olympia, and hearing directly from you is one of the best ways for me to accomplish that goal.

Thanks again for the honor of representing you in the Washington State Senate.


Senator Mike Padden

In the District: Forker Road ribbon cutting celebration

Forker Rd

On October 30th, Spokane County and Washington State officials gathered to celebrate the opening of the Bigelow Gulch-Forker Road Interchange project.

The event marked a milestone in the mammoth ($67,917,681) Bigelow Gulch/Forker Road Urban Connector Project. The project began in 2005, and has been completed in stages, with the interchange at Bigelow and Forker being the most recent. 

Two more phases of the corridor are scheduled for 2019: the stretch of Bigelow Gulch between the interchange and Argonne, and the realignment of Forker Road to Sullivan in the Spokane Valley.

The entire transportation corridor is scheduled for completion by the end of 2022.

For more information, go to

Working with national experts to end sex-trafficking exploitation of children


We must employ all tools possible to prevent the sexual exploitation of our children.

I recently attended the international Juvenile Sex Trafficking (JuST) Conference in San Diego, to gather ideas for new legislation that can be introduced when lawmakers return to Olympia in January. The JuST Conference is the preeminent gathering of sex-trafficking survivors, social service providers, law enforcement and policy makers dedicated to fighting sex trafficking and bringing healing to victims. It is organized by Shared Hope International, an anti-trafficking organization founded by former Congresswoman Linda Smith and headquartered in Vancouver, Washington.

At the conference I joined others in congratulating San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan (pictured above) on receiving the organization’s Pathbreaker Award for her national anti-trafficking work. She pioneered and served as chief of the Sex Crimes and Human Trafficking Division Special Victims Unit in San Diego County. It was tremendously helpful to confer with District Attorney Stephan and ask her advice on strategies that have worked and could be enacted into law in our state.

Court rules on sentencing youth to life without parole


On October 25 our state’s Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 that sentencing youth offenders to life in prison without parole is unconstitutional and “constitutes cruel punishment.”

I think the majority really stretched their reasoning in this decision. In 2014, the Legislature passed a law that allows life in prison in specific juvenile cases as long as the judge in the case considers certain criteria.

The case at the heart of the decision involved Brian Bassett, now 39. He was convicted of three counts of aggravated first-degree murder for fatally shooting his parents and drowning his 5-year-old brother in a bathtub in Grays Harbor County in 1996, when he was 16.

The trial judge went over all of the factors, as required by law, including what the defendant was capable of understanding, and the defendant met all of the criteria under the 2014 law. The dissent is quite vociferous. I am hopeful that the Grays Harbor County prosecutor will appeal the ruling.

We really don’t need a super-legislature as our supreme court, and that’s essentially what the majority has called for with this decision.

Victory for charter-school families at state Supreme Court


Parents and students across our state got some good news last month, when the state Supreme Court upheld most of the Charter School Act passed by the Legislature in 2016.

Five of the nine justices agreed with the lead opinion in full; the others were split between different dissents. And the ruling did strike down a provision in the law that restricted charter schools from unionizing across schools. But the important point is that the high court has defended the approach to funding charter schools, which are crucial to providing alternatives for students when a traditional public school does not meet their needs.

Washington became the 42nd state to allow publicly funded, privately operated charter public schools when voters approved Initiative-1240 in 2012. The initiative, which passed in 36 of the state’s 39 counties, was specifically aimed at helping students in communities where schools were chronically underperforming.

The charter-school win comes on the heels of a 2015 ruling, in which justices ruled that using money from the state’s general fund to operate charter schools was unconstitutional. The Legislature followed up the 2015 ruling by passing a law that funds charters through lottery revenues. Charter-school opponents argued that approach violated the state constitution because the schools’ governing boards weren’t accountable to voters. The charter-school opponents made their case to King County Superior Court and lost in February 2017.

In last month’s ruling the court determined that the state constitution does not restrict the Legislature’s ability to create charter schools that provide a general education and are open to all students. It ruled that a locally elected school board is not required by Washington’s constitution and therefore charter schools may be supervised just like all other public schools. Furthermore, the court determined that using public money to operate alternative, nonprofit charter schools over which voters have no direct control is allowed by the state constitution. The majority also specified that the 2016 Charter School Act does not violate the Constitution since charters are funded exclusively by the Opportunity Pathways Account (via lottery revenue) and not from the state general fund.

The bottom line: Families who rely on charter schools may continue to do so.

In the News:

West Coast quake warning system now operational, with limits

Associated Press | Oct. 17, 2018

Early Warning

This 2009 photo shows an earthquake monitoring station on the San Andreas Fault in a desert canyon near Thermal, Calif. Developers testing an earthquake early warning system for the West Coast say its alerts are ready to be used much more broadly, but not for mass public notification. (Reed Saxon / AP)

Automated alerts from the fledgling West Coast earthquake early warning system are ready to be used broadly by businesses, utilities, schools and other entities but not for mass public notification, officials said.

“We’re making a large change from a production prototype in pilot mode to an open-for-business operational mode,” Doug Given, earthquake early warning coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey, told a press conference at the California Institute of Technology.

The system being built for California, Oregon and Washington detects that an earthquake is occurring, quickly analyzes the data and sends out alerts that may give warnings of several seconds to a minute before strong shaking arrives at locations away from the epicenter.

You can read the full article by clicking here.

Video: Happy birthday to the USMC


Click the image above to watch this video.

The 242nd Marine Corps birthday is this Saturday, November 10th. The video above is the 2018 Commandant of the Marine Corps Birthday Message. A Veteran’s Day service project will take place at Fairmont Cemetery Garden of Honor (5200 W Wellesley, Spokane 99205), tomorrow (Friday), beginning at 8:30 AM. The public is welcome to attend.


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