The following newsletter was sent to subscribers to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, Feb. 7, 2019. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletters, click here.
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
One of the most frustrating things about DUI fatalities is that often we find the impaired driver has been charged and even convicted multiple times before. Studies show repeat offenders are far more likely to be involved in deadly alcohol and drug-related crashes, yet Washington’s treatment of repeat offenses remains a major weakness in our DUI laws.
One reason is that Washington courts may only consider convictions within in the last 10 years when issuing sentences. This session we hope to change that.
I’ll tell you about this effort in this week’s newsletter, and about another measure I have sponsored – prohibiting discrimination against the developmentally disabled for organ transplants. These are among the hundred of bills we are considering in committee as the House and Senate prepare for floor sessions to come. It’s a busy time at the state Capitol. But always we stand ready to serve you, the people of the 4th Legislative District.
Senator Mike Padden
A longer look-back for DUI cases
In an all-too-typical DUI tragedy six years ago, two people died and two were severely injured when they crossed a Seattle street and were mowed down by a driver who had consumed nearly three times the legal limit of alcohol. When reporters looked into the driver’s background, they found he had been arrested for DUI offenses five times before – three times in the ‘90s, and twice in the months before the collision.
Since then we’ve done plenty to strengthen our laws – most notably, making the 4th DUI a felony. But we still need to close the loop on repeat offenders.
A longer look-back period would allow felony charges to be filed against a greater number of offenders, and put them behind bars for a longer period of time. On Thursday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee will consider two measures. I have sponsored Senate Bill 5299, which permits a 25-year look-back, and Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, has sponsored SB 5286, which extends it to 20. Either proposal is better than the 10 year look-back permitted by current state law. You can read more about this effort here.
In testimony Monday, the bills received support from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Washington State Patrol. Speakers included Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell (right), using the Senate’s remote-testimony facilities. All are agreed: With a longer look-back period, we can get more of these repeat offenders off the road and help stop this most preventable tragedy.
Organ transplants and the value of life
For nearly 30 years, federal law has declared there shall be no discrimination against the disabled in medical treatment. Unfortunately, word has been slow to reach those who make life-and-death decisions about organ transplants. That is why I have sponsored SB 5405, which states that transplants cannot be denied solely for reasons of disability.
Often there are long waiting lists for organ transplants, and medical professionals ought to be able to decide which patients stand the best chance of recovery. But we should be troubled by the suggestion that the lives of the developmentally disabled are somehow less valuable than others. In California, Oregon and five other states, high-profile cases of transplant denials to the disabled led their legislatures to pass laws similar to this one. Hospitals in this state say they don’t discriminate. We shouldn’t wait for it to happen here.
In testimony Monday before the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee, Ashley Helsing of the National Down Syndrome Society cited a Stanford study showing that 85 percent of pediatric transplant centers consider intellectual or developmental disabilities when determining eligibility for transplants. Some 71 percent of heart programs also consider disabilities as a factor. “Individuals with Down Syndrome and other disabilities have lives that matter,” Helsing said. Exactly the point of the bill. All lives have value, and disability should never be the only reason for denial.
An astounding record of growth
The good economic news just keeps coming. January was the 100th straight month of payroll growth in America as employers added 304,000 jobs. This came despite the federal-government shutdown, a trade war with China and a souring global economy. And in Washington state, our economy continues to roar, not just in the Puget Sound area but right here in our own Spokane Valley.
One indication is the record growth of tax collections — we’ll have nearly $5 billion more than the last budget the Legislature wrote two years ago. This is the result of economic growth — no major tax increase was required. Since our last official forecast in November, tax receipts have continued to exceed projections. The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council tells us that Washington’s personal-income growth was highest in the nation last year — 7 percent versus 4 percent nationally. Unemployment in this state was 4.3 percent in December, the third consecutive month at an all-time low.
The continuing strength of the U.S. and Washington-state economy is the success story of the decade, exceeding expectations and defying headwinds. We can see the effect right here at home, as industrial development brings jobs to our community. Long may it continue.
Meet our Olympia team!
This year it is a pleasure to welcome to our Olympia office two of our state’s youngest and brightest. Let’s let them introduce themselves.
John Jourdan, session aide: I was born and raised on a small farm a few miles outside of Wenatchee, just a short distance from the Wenatchee National Forest. Along with my three older siblings, I was homeschooled. Growing up, hobbies included hiking, hunting, archery, and boatbuilding.
I am now a senior at Gonzaga University studying communications and political science. At Gonzaga, I served as the president of the John Paul II Fellowship club, and am currently the president of Gonzaga Students for Life.
I am excited to have this opportunity to work in the Washington State Senate, and look forward to learning more about politics at the state level.
Dagny Ahrend, session intern: I am currently in my first year at Saint Martin’s University and am majoring in political science with a minor in global studies.
I am originally from Ephrata, Washington, where my parents and five brothers still reside. As a Running Start student, I graduated from Ephrata High School and received my Associates Degree from Big Bend Community College both in 2018.
I appreciate the opportunity to intern with Senator Padden’s office and am looking forward to the rest of the legislative session.
Thanks to Jack Gauvin for serving as a Senate page!
Last week I had the honor of hosting Jack Gauvin of Liberty Lake as a Senate page. This talented young man captured the attention of the statehouse when he sat down at the grand piano in the State Reception Room and began to play. Gauvin, a ninth grader at Central Valley High School, was one of state Rep. Bob McCaslin’s students in kindergarten – and the accomplishments he has already demonstrated at age 15 make us all proud.
The Senate page program offers an opportunity for youths age 14 to 16 to participate in the legislative process and see the statehouse firsthand. If you know of someone who might be interested, more information can be found here.
We’re in Olympia for the duration. 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