The following newsletter was sent to subscribers to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, Jan. 24, 2019. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletters, click here.
Legislature off and running – Initiative fix is top priority
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Our 2019 legislative session is off and running. During our first week, we witnessed opening ceremonies in the House and Senate and keynote addresses by state officials. More than 950 bills have been introduced to date in the House and Senate. For those of us who have the honor of serving in the Legislature, our days have become a nonstop series of breakfast gatherings, committee hearings, floor sessions and meetings.
One of the first things the Legislature will do this year is to correct problems with Initiative 940, the deadly-force initiative approved by Washington voters last November. This is a personal priority for me – read on for more. We’re also introducing our bills for the session and getting ready for hearings to come.
As always, I hope you will contact our office in Olympia if you have concerns about state government or need assistance with a state agency. That’s why we’re here — to serve you.
Senator Mike Padden
Fixing Initiative 940, and doing it right
It is important for the Legislature to fix initiatives that don’t work as intended, but it is just as important that we follow the law when we do it. This is the real lesson of Initiative 940. This measure, approved by voters last November, imposes new rules on police use of deadly force. More than 350,000 voters signed petitions in 2016 to place this matter before the Legislature. Last session I was among those who agreed these new rules needed to be clearer and less-subjective. By the time we were done, we had a compromise everyone could live with, including law enforcement and the initiative sponsors.
The problem was the method the Legislature used to make those changes. The constitution gives the Legislature just three options when initiatives are submitted to the Legislature. If lawmakers pass the measure as-is, it becomes a law. If they take no action, it goes to the ballot and voters decide. Lawmakers also can draft an alternative for the ballot, and voters can choose which one they like best, or neither.
Unfortunately, majority Democrats in the Legislature did none of the above. Instead they passed an amendatory bill with a bare majority vote, then passed the initiative and called it good. Many of us cried foul. If the Legislature can cut the voters out of the process, initiatives to the Legislature become meaningless. I was among those who sued. The state Supreme Court agreed with us, and sent the original measure to the ballot. It passed with 60 percent support.
Now the matter is back in the Legislature’s hands, and this time we are doing things the right way, in accordance with the law. House and Senate committees held hearings last week on a bill that would enact our changes. The House version is HB 1064. It is my honor to be primary Republican co-sponsor of the Senate version, SB 5029. Because this bill amends an initiative within the first two years of passage, a two-thirds vote of both chambers will be required. If all goes according to plan, this will be one of the first bills passed by the Legislature in 2019.
This really is a success story – we preserved the initiative process. Special thanks are due to the attorneys who worked on our case, Joel Ard and David DeWolf. DeWolf is a professor emeritus at the Gonzaga University School of Law. Our efforts underscored the fact that the Legislature, above all, must observe the rule of law.
Celebrating the sanctity of life
Every year that I have served in the Legislature, I have been proud to address the March for Life – the rally that marks the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, and calls our consciences to recognize the sanctity of innocent life. Hundreds turned out Tuesday at the Capitol despite drizzly weather, and their willingness to endure the rain demonstrated their perseverance.
This year I have once again introduced a bill that would require parental notification when a minor child seeks an abortion – as is only reasonable when one considers the medical, emotional and psychological consequences. It is SB 5185, and you can read it here.
Bills in action
In addition to the parental notification bill, I have introduced several other bills for consideration this session. They include:
SB 5219 – Condominium construction. This bill would streamline regulations for condominium projects of six units or less.
SB 5299 – DUI look-back. Current law allows courts to consider convictions within the last 10 years when sentencing for DUI violations. This bill would extend the look-back to 25 years.
SB 5405 – Organ transplants. This bill would end discrimination against those with developmental disabilities for organ transplants.
SB 5417 – Military collector vehicles. This bill would establish that military vehicles operated by collectors and enthusiasts are permitted to travel state highways, granting them an exception from standards designed for consumer vehicles.
From the floor of the Legislature
Most attention in our opening week went to the ceremonies associated with the start of session. On opening day Jan. 14, we witnessed the swearing-in of the Legislature’s newest members. They include Spokane County’s Jeff Holy, R-Cheney (right), who will represent the 6th District in the Senate. He takes the place of Michael Baumgartner, who was elected Spokane County Treasurer last fall.
The next day we heard the governor’s State of the State Address — a pitch for massive increases in state spending, with no mention of the tax increases he proposes to pay for it. And the following day we heard the annual State of the Judiciary message from Mary Fairhurst, chief justice of the Supreme Court. Fairhurst revealed that her colon cancer, formerly in remission, has returned, but she plans to continue working. We wish her Godspeed in her fight.
Thanks to Kyle White for serving as a Senate page!
During the first week of this year’s legislative session, it was my pleasure to sponsor Kyle White as a Senate page. Kyle, of Spokane Valley, is an eighth grader at St. John Vianney School, and is the son of Sam Courchaine and Emily Fries.
The Senate page program offers youths 14 through 16 a chance to see the Legislature in action. Pages are responsible for transporting documents between offices, as well as delivering messages and mail. This program is a valuable opportunity for students curious about careers in the public arena. This year our office will host several of our youngest and brightest. If you know someone who might be interested, more information can be found here.
Phone: (360) 786-7606
Street address: 106 Irv Newhouse Building, Capitol Campus, Olympia, WA 98504
Postal address: PO Box 40404, Olympia, WA 98504