Freedom the theme at town hall meeting

 The following newsletter was sent to subscribers to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, Feb. 3, 2017. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletters, click here.

Last weekend it was my pleasure to join my 4th District seatmates, Reps. Matt Shea and Bob McCaslin, for a town hall meeting at the New Life Church in Spokane Valley. After several weeks in the Olympia bubble, it is good to be reminded of the topics that make a difference to the people of our area.

We heard complaints about government land-use restrictions, under the Growth Management Act, which have made it difficult to build new schools and develop new neighborhoods. People also appear troubled about government misuse of eminent domain authority, an issue I hope to address with SB 5445.

We discussed restrictive water laws that could create artificial water supply problems for our growing Valley communities – and legislation I have introduced that would correct the problem. We heard concerns about gun-ownership restrictions, and about government discrimination based on religion. I was gratified by audience support for my proposal to strengthen our state’s felony DUI law, the weakest in the country.

These concerns have a common thread. They reflect our interest in freedom – to drive our roads in safety, to own and develop private property, to worship freely, to live where we want. After weeks at the statehouse listening to debate over budgets and technical points of law, it is refreshing to hear people speak of the fundamental values we share.

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march for life

Speaking at the 39th annual March for Life Jan. 23, before a crowd estimated at 2,500. Two days later, another crowd packed the Law and Justice Committee hearing room as we took public testimony on my parental notification bill, SB 5320, which would require a parent or guardian to be notified 48 hours before a minor receives an abortion.

Strengthening laws against human trafficking

Washington has some of the toughest laws against human trafficking in the country, but there remains much more to do. This year we are making it easier to prosecute those who patronize prostitutes – by recognizing that in an age of online advertising, communications can cross city, county and even state lines. SB 5184, which I have sponsored, allows prosecutions to occur where communications are sent or where they are received. The measure cleared the Senate Law and Justice Committee Thursday. A companion measure, HB 1184, sponsored by Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, also passed the state House the same day.

I have joined with Rep. Orwall in sponsoring another proposal, introduced as SB 5029 and HB 1079. These measures would allow courts to issue no-contact orders to those charged with trafficking or promoting prostitution. Under this measure, police would be able to act quickly if predators attempt to contact victims when they are released pending trial. In committee we heard of numerous cases in which these predators have gone back to the vulnerable young women they have controlled, demanding they return to the streets, or threatening them with violence if they testify.

Human trafficking is a serious matter, really a modern-day form of slavery. Our concern should be for the women who are targeted by older men with the worst of intentions. We need to recognize this is not a victimless crime.


Senate skirmish demonstrates need for bipartisanship

An unfortunate skirmish on the Senate floor last week calls attention to the need for bipartisanship and collegiality in the Legislature. Our Majority Coalition Caucus in the Senate has a narrow 25-24 advantage over the Senate Democratic Caucus. But the arrival of a new administration in the other Washington has produced an unusual situation. One of our members, Brian Dansel, R-Republic, resigned to take a federal agriculture post. Another member, Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, is temporarily serving on the transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency.

During the brief period between Dansel’s resignation and his replacement Wednesday by Shelley Short, R-Addy, our Democratic colleagues attempted to use their temporary numerical advantage to take over the Senate floor. It was a time of high drama for several hours Friday as the 24 Senate Democrats battled our floor leader, Sen. Joe Fain, R-Covington, on a series of parliamentary motions aimed at passing a tax bill. They lost and the citizens of Washington won.

The incident should remind us of the importance of cooperation among legislators of both parties, so we can continue making progress on the important business before the Legislature.


Thanks to Annalise Hemingway for serving as a Senate page!

padden annalise hemingway

This week we were pleased to have Annalise Hemingway as a Senate page. Annalise, 16, is a homeschooled student who lives in Spokane Valley with her parents Eric and AnnaMarie Hemingway. We still have opportunities this session for students age 14 to 16 who wish to spend a week at the Capitol, learning how the Legislature really works. For more information, visit