Report from Olympia -- Jan. 15, 2015

current banner

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

Jan. 15, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Senate reconvened this week for its 2015 session. This year has plenty of exciting opportunities and challenges to get through, and it’s an honor to once again serve you here in Olympia. As many of you know, our sessions last 60 days in even-numbered years, but in odd numbered years like this one, we are allowed 105 days. Keep reading for more on that.

My 4th District legislative office in Spokane Valley is closed while we are in Olympia. To reach me during the session, just dial 360-786-7606 or phone the toll-free legislative hotline at 800-562-6000 and ask to be connected to my office.

The Olympia office will be staffed by my legislative assistant, Mike McCliment. He will be assisted by Esther Ripplinger, who is my session aide. Tyler Sherwin will be interning in our office this session. Tyler is a student at Walla Walla University, studying business finance while also serving as a student senator.

As we begin this session, if you have thoughts about legislation I should pursue or laws that could be changed, I want to hear them. Please feel free to contact me anytime via email or by phone.

Thank you, as always, for the opportunity to serve you in the state Senate.

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden
4th Legislative District


2015 legislative session is under way 


The 2015 session began with a bang of the gavel as members were sworn in. The Legislature will have a Republican majority in the Senate and a Democrat majority in the House of Representatives this session. Given this reality, lawmakers will undoubtedly need to work together to achieve solutions on a wide array of issues facing the Legislature this year.

Since this is an odd-numbered year, the regular session is considered a “long” session: 105 days instead of the 60 days allowed in even-numbered years. That’s because lawmakers are granted more time to craft a new two-year operating budget for the state. Already we have heard calls for new taxes to pay for increased government spending. Governor Inslee has proposed carbon taxes and new capital-gains taxes on investment earnings, and others in his party are even talking again about the creation of a state income tax.

In the past, taxpayers could rely on the Taxpayer Protection Act to make sure the Legislature turned to taxes as a last resort only. The TPA, which the voters have passed at the ballot with big majorities five times, required either a vote of the people or a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate in order to raise taxes. This policy did not make tax increases impossible, just more difficult. It required tax increases to be broadly supported by members of both parties or by the people.

1185 map smaller


Unfortunately, in 2013 some lawmakers and their allies successfully petitioned the state Supreme Court to find the supermajority requirement unconstitutional.

That is why my colleagues and I took steps on Monday to reinstate this common-sense requirement by making a change in the Senate rules. As was pointed out by Jason Mercier at the non-partisan Washington Policy Center, this could be done while complying with the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling.

"Under that ruling a majority vote is required on final passage for a tax increase. Article 2, Section 9 of the state Constitution, however, makes it clear the Legislature can set its own procedural rules…

“This means that short of restricting the vote required on final passage, the Senate could adopt a supermajority vote requirement for tax increases earlier in the procedural process.”

The new rule, which was adopted by the Senate, requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to move any bill creating a new tax to the floor for a vote. Personally, I wish that the rule would have required the supermajority for all tax increases, but this is a good step and will help counter some of the “tax-em-first” attitude of some of those in Olympia. It was also a good way to start the session – with a win for the taxpayers! 

Meet my legislative page


I was glad to be able to sponsor Rachael Marie Foley for the Senate Page Program this week. Rachael is a student at Mt. Spokane High School in Mead. She’s a tremendous young lady and it has been a pleasure to get to know her.

Back at school, Rachael is a member of both the marching and jazz bands, and has an interest in science and the law. Here in Olympia, she has joined students from all over the state, making new friends and learning more about state government.

The Senate Page program is open to Washington students between the ages of 14 and 16. Pages spend a week at the Capitol attending classes and assisting with legislative duties. If you know of any students who are interested in applying, please have them contact my office.


From the district…

City Manager Mike Jackson

On Tuesday the city manager of Spokane Valley Mike Jackson and City Attorney Cary Driskell made the trip to Olympia to meet with me and members of the Senate Government Operations and Security committee to discuss nuisance abatement and other local issues important to the Valley. “Nuisance abatement” refers to code enforcement used in order to improve the quality of life and safety issues at the neighborhood level.

The city manager is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city organization. In addition to providing the support needed to achieve the city council's goals for the community, the city manager is a critical link between the council, the city organization, and the people of Spokane Valley. As was the case this week, the city manager also works with the Legislature to make sure that issues important to the city are addressed at the state level.


First bills introduced; work in committees begins

In addition to serving on the Senate’s budget committee and the renamed (and expanded) Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee, I also am chairman of the Law & Justice committee and vice chairman of the new

Accountability & Reform Committee. Work began in these committees this week, which included hearing public testimony on bills introduced in the Senate so far this year.

There are several issues important to the people of the 4th District, and I sponsored legislation to address these concerns. To learn more about these bills and others I filed, click on the links below:

  • Senate Bill 5033: Concerning sexually violent predators.
  • Senate Bill 5046: Correcting a codification error concerning the governor's designee to the traffic safety commission.
  • Senate Bill 5066: Concerning the collection of blood samples for forensic testing.
  • Senate Bill 5067: Addressing informant and accomplice evidence and testimony.
  • Senate Bill 5101: Modifying mental status evaluation provisions.
  • Senate Bill 5102: Authorizing urban governmental services for schools in rural areas.
  • Senate Bill 5104: Concerning the possession or use of alcohol and controlled substances in sentencing provisions.
  • Senate Bill 5105: Making a fourth driving under the influence offense a felony.
  • Senate Bill 5107: Encouraging the establishment of therapeutic courts.
  • Senate Bill 5108: Clarifying the order of candidate names on ballots.
  • Senate Bill 5125: Increasing district court civil jurisdiction.
  • Senate Bill 5126: Addressing the issuance of subpoenas in proceedings involving the employment security department.