A state income tax for Christmas?

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

Report from Olympia |  December 23, 2020


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Merry Christmas! I hope you and your loved ones will have the best of holidays, with plenty of love, gratitude and peace. Hopefully you can enjoy your family, some good food and remember the reason for the season. Please also take a moment to remember those who are less fortunate.

This current pandemic has been very difficult on communities across our state, with many people dealing with feelings of anxiety, isolation and loneliness. The holidays are often difficult for those struggling with mental illness and depression. For some, unfortunately, there have also been months of economic despair and lockdown orders, which magnified their problems. Please reach out to loved ones and neighbors.

Several organizations depend on the generosity of others to help provide meals and presents to needy families and give hope to those who have lost hope. If you are able, and so inclined, please consider contacting your local church or established charity and donating.

The legislative session starts next month. The governor recently released his budget proposals. From my prospective there is again too much reliance on new taxes and increased spending proposals.

There is some good news. Thanks to the leadership of the President, some fantastic researchers, dedicated scientist and Operation Warp Speed, COVID-19 vaccines are now being made available. This is an incredible scientific and public-health achievement and is a sign of hope for the new year.

At the same time, there are concerns that the vaccine availability could possibly lead to discrimination against those who are unable or unwilling to take it. To protect individual conscience rights, legislation has already been drafted to prevent possible discrimination in this area.

You can read about these and other issues in this edition of Report from Olympia.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out and share your thoughts with me. You can always contact our district office at 921-2460 or email me directly. Our Olympia office will be manned beginning on Jan. 6.

Thanks again for the opportunity to serve as your voice in the state Senate.

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden

Meet Team Padden

Our 2021 legislative staff is here to help you.

Please allow me to introduce you to our new team for the 2021 session. They are committed to the values and goals of this office and will work diligently to serve the people of the 4th Legislative District.


John Jourdan became my Legislative Assistant in July. He attended Gonzaga University, studying Communication Studies and Political Science. In 2018 he interned for the development team at Second Harvest Inland Northwest and for Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ re-election campaign. He also previously served as my session aide. John has been a strong advocate for the pro-life cause, coordinating roughly 35 Students for Life of America student groups across Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Utah. He hopes to bring positive change and to better serve the people of the 4th District in his new role.


Felicia Hebner will be the upcoming session aide. She is a graduate of Eastern Washington University, majoring in political science, psychology, and sociology. Her goal is to attend Gonzaga Law School. She is passionate about protecting community members, such as small business owners, dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 and the governor’s shutdowns. Felicia was my session intern for the 2020 session.


Beth Taylor is the newest addition to the team. She is a senior at Western Washington University and will work as an intern with our office. Beth has worked in the social-services field, helping sex-trafficking victims find hope and restoration. She has been an advocate for restoring families and bringing together healthy support systems for her clients.

2021 Committee Assignments


When the 2021 session begins Jan. 11, I will be resuming my role as the ranking minority member – the lead Republican – on the Senate Law and Justice Committee, as well as returning to the Senate Transportation Committee. I will also take on new responsibilities as a member of the Health and Long-Term Care Committee.

The ranking minority position on the Law and Justice Committee will allow me to maintain my focus on matters of law, the judiciary and law enforcement. I will be able to continue working on public-safety issues, particularly addressing rioting and lawlessness, criminal-justice reform, impaired driving, and human trafficking.

Serving on the Transportation Committee, especially in a budget year such as 2021, is very important for our communities. Over the past several sessions, we have been able to secure support for a number of vital projects in our region. I will continue to advocate for the infrastructure needs of Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake and unincorporated Spokane County.

Last, but not least, I am looking forward to serving on the Health and Long-Term Care Committee. This committee deals with issues relating to health-care services, long-term care, and developmental disabilities – an issue of particular importance to me. It also considers behavioral-health matters including mental-health treatment, involuntary treatment, and children's mental health – all issues that are of even more relevance, given how so many people of all ages have experienced the isolation of the pandemic.

Holding Corrections accountable for Airway Heights death

Fix DOC - Padden

As you may have read this summer, I put out a call to Senate leaders to form a special committee to investigate the death of inmate Robert Munger at the Airway Heights Corrections Center at the hands of his cellmate, Shane Goldsby.

Goldsby said he was enraged at being placed in the same cell because his younger sister was one of Munger’s victims. This was one of the most disturbing and consequential errors made by the Department of Corrections, but unfortunately, it is also part of the ongoing list of major incidents for the troubled department.

On Dec. 9, there was an informal inquiry at my request into the killing of inmate Robert Munger. The meeting was attended by Sen. Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma), the chair of the Senate Human Services Committee, myself, and Sen. Keith Wagoner (R-Sedro-Wolley).

The meeting focused on the lack of proper vetting at the Airway Heights Correction Center of inmate Goldsby, in placing him in a cell with Mr. Munger. 

Some others in attendance were Joanna Carns, Director of the Office of Corrections Ombuds (OCO), an independent, office tasked with promoting positive change in corrections, and Lieutenant Scott Davis with the Washington State Patrol (WSP). The OCO and WSP each produced reports on the incident at Airway Heights following an investigation. They shared their findings and recommendations.

Secretary of Corrections Stephen Sinclair and several other agency staffers were present. They were given opportunities to discuss their views of what happened at Airway Heights and to hear recommendations. Unfortunately, Secretary Sinclair had to depart the meeting early, but a robust examination of the issues took place.

I will continue to push for reforms and accountability at DOC.

Click here to read the full OCO report on the Airway Heights homicide.

Click here to read the WSP report on the incident.

Big spending, unconstitutional income tax in Inslee budget proposal

Last week, Governor Inslee released his new biennial budget proposal for the Legislature to consider – his fifth such proposal since taking office in 2013. Unfortunately, what he wants for 2021-23 is just more of the same. The governor who originally ran for office on a no-new-taxes pledge, went 5-for-5, by yet again including tax increases in his plan – including the creation of a new, unconstitutional state income tax on capital gains.


The governor proposed a $57.6 billion operating budget, a $5.5 billion (10.5%) increase from the current budget. This level of spending has become a pattern. It is not sustainable. We need to deal with, and recover from, economic fallout from Covid-19 and the Governor’s shutdown of certain sectors of our states’ economy. The revenue forecast projects that there will be $54.7 billion available without new taxes; yet his proposal is $3.7 billion (7.2%) more than the current budget. We do not need new taxes!

Governor Inslee would finance the $3.4 billion in additional spending by:

  • Imposing a $1.2 billion general fund tax increase;
  • Reducing reserves by $2 billion;
  • Spending the entirety of the state’s rainy-day fund; and
  • Transferring $200 million from other accounts.

His tax-increase proposal includes:

  • $3.60 billion from a new income tax on capital gains;
  • $548 million from a health-care premium tax;
  • A “low carbon fuel standard,” which would raise the price of gasoline, diesel and other fuels; and,
  • A likely $1 billion “cap & tax” carbon emissions scheme targeting manufacturers, consumers and workers.

These new burdens on families and employers would be on top of the new payroll tax that was approved in 2019 to take effect in 2022. The additional tax of 0.58% on a worker’s wages will mean an added $290 hit to a person making a $50,000 salary.

This is beyond disappointing. Our state is suffering the economic impacts of the governor’s COVID-related shutdowns, with families struggling to find work, make ends meet or even receive needed unemployment benefits. If the people of our state ever deserved a break from new taxes, it’s now.

My Senate Republican colleagues and I have been listening to the families and employers across Washington, and the last thing they want is a new tax on health care, a state income tax or to pay more for motor fuel and heating oil.


Mead School District points to how to re-open schools

Mead SD

Click here to watch video.

While most of the state’s schools have been shut down, with students forced to adapt to remote learning, the Mead School District has provided an example of how to continue in-person instruction during a pandemic.

This video is an excellent interview with the Mead School Superintendent Shawn Woodward. In the interview, which was conducted by the Washington Alliance 4 Kids, Superintendent Woodward describes how the district has been able to successfully offer in-school instruction since August for all elementary students and hybrid instruction for secondary students. The Mead School District has more than 10,000 students and is the largest public school district in our state to offer in-school learning. 

Click here or on the image above to watch the interview.

Operation Warp Speed delivers!

Vaccines make their way to Washington; Legislation introduced to protect the rights of those who don’t want to take it


Thanks to the efforts of President Trump, Vice President Pence, doctors, scientists, industry executives, volunteers and state and local leaders, the historic Operation Warp Speed has been an incredible success, resulting in not one, but two COVID-19 vaccines being developed and approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in record time.

This month our state Department of Health has already received tens of thousands of doses of the Pfizer-developed vaccine, which is being distributed to 17 sites in 13 counties. The initial doses are going to high-risk healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities, under a phased distribution system.

By the end of December, the state expects to get another 220,000+ doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Before January we should also get about 183,800 doses of the recently approved vaccine developed by Moderna. The state expects that by mid-summer, any Washingtonian who wants the vaccine will have had an opportunity to get it.

While this is exciting news, some citizens either can’t or will choose not to take the vaccine. Their rights must be respected! My Republican colleague, Sen. Doug Ericksen from Ferndale, has begun work on legislation to that would prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s vaccination status. Under his proposed legislation, vaccination could not be required as a condition of employment, school attendance, state-regulated travel, or entry into places of public accommodation.

Click here to learn more about this legislation.

From the District:

Veradale, Washington – Then and Now

By Jesse Tinsley, Spokesman-Review | Dec. 21, 2020


1941: An early strip of commercial buildings in Vera, Washington, which was later renamed Veradale, is shown, including a Rainbow Gasoline station and Hultman’s Market. (SPOKANE VALLEY HERITAGE MUSEUM)

Like many settlers, McDonald saw the Spokane River valley, the Palouse and other relatively level areas as ideal for agriculture, including row crops, grains and tree fruit, and believed that man-made irrigation was the key.

McDonald and various partners were also involved in acquiring land, early on through federal homestead or mining claims, and building irrigation projects in Eastern Washington and North Idaho in the territorial era.

McDonald and R.A. Hutchinson would buy and develop a half section of land, equal to one-half square mile, in Opportunity Township in Spokane Valley.

Click here to read the full article.

In the News:

More than 50 Republican legislators again call for a special session

Lawmakers' initial request came back in May.

Goldendale Sentinel | Dec. 9, 2020

Republican leaders in the state Legislature have again called for a special session to deal with emergency issues related to public health and support for small business and their employees who are suffering from the economic impacts of Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19-related restrictions.

Fifty-two lawmakers (32 Representatives and 20 Senators) have already signed a letter that has been circulated to members of both chambers and transmitted to the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley and one of the letter’s signers, said that his constituents continue to tell him that they cannot wait for the Legislature’s annual session to start in January to see relief; they need legislative action now.

“The letters, emails and phone calls I receive are heartbreaking,” said Padden. “People are hurting, and they expect their elected officials to be in Olympia, serving as their voice, and working hard to meet their needs.” Click here to read the full article.

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!

Phone: (360) 786-7606

Street address: 106 Irv Newhouse Building, Capitol Campus, Olympia, WA 98504

Postal address: PO Box 40404, Olympia, WA 98504

Email address: Mike.Padden@leg.wa.gov

PLEASE NOTE: Any email or documents you provide to this office may be subject to disclosure under RCW 42.56. If you would prefer to communicate by phone, please contact Sen. Padden's Olympia office, which will be open starting Jan. 6, at (360) 786-7606.

To request public records from Sen. Padden, please contact Randi Stratton who is the designated public records officer for the Secretary of the Senate and Senate members.