The following newsletter was sent to Sen. Mike Padden’s subscribers April 25, 2019. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletters, click here.
Busy floor sessions are commonplace as the Legislature heads toward adjournment.
Waiting for a deal as Legislature’s adjournment nears
Legislature due to adjourn Sunday, but major issues, DUI bill still undcided
Dear friends and neighbors,
We’re in the final days of our regular legislative session, but an on-time finish Sunday is looking increasingly difficult. Our colleagues in the majority party still haven’t reached agreement on the biggest tax and spending issues before us this session. Most of the other big issues we’ve discussed this year also remain undecided. Will the Legislature force an income tax on the people of Washington? Impose an inflexible school-immunization requirement? Make Washington a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants? Or artificially increase the cost of gasoline to discourage you from driving?
You may be wondering. We certainly are. Many of these proposals depend on the budget our majority colleagues will propose. Among the measures that hang in the balance is one of my top priorities for the session, a measure that would send more impaired drivers to prison.
Even at this late date, it’s still possible that our urban Western Washington colleagues will emerge from the back rooms of the Capitol and reveal their plan to end the session. Once they announce deals on the operating, capital and transportation budgets, if we work quickly and schedule marathon floor sessions, we still might be able to get our work done by midnight Sunday. If we don’t, Washington taxpayers will be forced to spend thousands of dollars every day for a special legislative session that should never have been required, as majority members consider unnecessary proposals to tax the people even further.
At this stage, we are reaching the point where an on-time finish may be less important than ensuring decisions are made wisely and in full public view. Many of this year’s proposals would have devastating effects on the people of the state. We shouldn’t be passing these bills in a hurry, before people have a chance to read them. When delay is used as a deliberate tactic to avoid an inconvenient public outcry, it is all the worse.
While these issues loom ominously over our adjournment Sunday, we’ve been passing dozens of bills off the House and Senate floors. These include several I have sponsored. I’ll tell you about some of them this week. And wish us luck over the next few days – we’re going to need it.
Sen. Mike Padden
School-safety bill signed into law
Senate Bill 5514 is signed into law Friday by Gov. Jay Inslee. Left to right, Tim Hunt, director of communications and outreach for the Washington State Catholic Conference, Suzie Hanson, executive director of the Washington Federation of Independent Schools, Catholic Conference government affairs representative Luke Esser, Padden session aide John Jourdan, Sen. Padden and Padden session intern Dagny Ahrend.
A bill I have sponsored requiring schools to be notified when violent incidents occur nearby was signed into law Friday by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Senate Bill 5514 requires law enforcement agencies and other first responders to notify public and private schools when there is a security threat nearby that might warrant a lockdown or evacuation. The new law will allow schools to better coordinate their efforts with law enforcement.
The lesson of the last few years is that we need to be prepared when violence occurs. If we are going to respond to crises effectively, we need to plan in advance. The Legislature has done considerable work on this issue, and it became clear to many of us that notification needs to be a key element.
This bill passed both chambers unanimously, 48-0 in the Senate and 92-0 in the House.
Some of the strongest testimony we heard in support of the bill came from private-school administrators. In emergency situations, their schools are often overlooked. During hearings, private-school officials recalled the citywide chaos in 2012 as Seattle police launched a dragnet to capture the gunman in the Café Racer shootings. A former private-school principal told us she had to follow the story by reading blog postings on the Internet, with no advice from authorities as to whether a lockdown was advisable.
The tragic shooting at Freeman High School in 2017 shows violence can strike anywhere at any time. What happened at Freeman shows this isn’t just an issue for urban areas. If we move quickly and deliberately in times of crisis, we can help protect our children from harm.
Human trafficking bill becomes law
Also signed into law Friday was a bill that will aid in the prosecution of human trafficking crimes against children. Gov. Jay Inslee gave his approval to SB 5885, which allows courts to accept out-of-court statements from children under age 16 in cases involving human trafficking.
This legislation will spare children the trauma of having to testify in open court. Many have suffered extreme sexual abuse and injury. In some cases, they have been sold into sexual slavery by their own relatives. In addition, many have no fixed address and are difficult to locate when court hearings occur.
To force these children to testify in open court is to reopen the wound. Washington already recognizes the problem, by exempting children under age 10 from the state’s hearsay rule. But older children are the ones most likely to be affected by human trafficking crimes, and they face the same difficulty confronting their abusers in court. By allowing prosecutors to present out-of-court statements from victims under age 16, we make it easier to obtain convictions for this most reprehensible crime.
I sponsored this legislation with strong support from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and from Shared Hope International, a non-profit organization that advocates stronger human trafficking laws. Former Congresswoman Linda Smith, director of the organization, was among those who testified for the bill.
Legislature passes bill banning organ-transplant discrimination
This week the Legislature unanimously approved a bill I have sponsored that protects people with developmental disabilities who are seeking organ transplants. SB 5405 was passed March 8 by the Senate and April 9 by the House, and on Monday the Senate voted 42-0 to concur with House changes to the bill. The measure now goes on to the governor for final consideration.
This bill is a recognition that all lives have value. Even though federal law prohibits discrimination for organ transplants, the word has been slow to reach many who make life-and-death decisions about eligibility. By passing the bill without a dissenting vote, the Legislature has made it clear that no transplant should be denied for reason of disability alone.
In one recent high-profile California case, a disabled man was denied a kidney transplant because he has Down syndrome. California is among seven states that have passed similar laws. The measure passed with strong support from disability advocates, among them the National Down Syndrome Society.
The measure would prohibit denials for the sole reason of disability. Mental or physical disability could not be used as a reason to deny transplant eligibility, surgery, medical care or insurance coverage. Disability also could not be used as the sole reason for moving an individual to a lower priority position on a waiting list. Nor could an individual’s inability to comply with post-transplant medical requirements be used as a reason for denial, if he or she has support from others who can provide assistance.
Bill expanding coroner investigation authority goes to governor
With a final vote in the Senate last week, a bill expanding the investigatory authority of county coroners advanced to the governor’s desk. SB 5300, which I sponsored, gives coroners the ability to subpoena documents in death investigations. Coroners complain they are often stonewalled in requests for records during death investigations. This sometimes forces them to take matters to the formal-inquest level, which gives them the right to seek subpoenas. Every vote taken on the measure was unanimous, including last Friday’s vote in the Senate to concur with House amendments.
Legislature OKs bill requiring county officials to seek mediation
One of the most troubling spectacles in local government comes when elected county officials can’t reach agreement and wind up suing each other in court. In cases like these, the taxpayers always wind up the loser, because they must pay legal costs for both sides. As a remedy, I introduced SB 5560. This bill would require county officials to seek mediation before going to court. The Senate concurred with House amendments Wednesday and sent the bill on to the governor.
Honors from Human Life of Washington
This week I was proud to receive a certificate of honor from Human Life of Washington, for my advocacy for human life.
Hitting the bullseye
My legislative assistant, Janet Voye, displays the bullseye she scored in this year’s legislative shootout, sponsored by the Washington Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. We’ll have to add sharpshooter to her job title.
Reminder: Government Guides are here
Our new Government Guide for 2019 is hot off the presses — and if you did not receive a copy in the mail, please contact our office and we will be glad to send one to you. This directory offers a handy reference on contacting government offices and other frequently called service providers. You can reach us by calling (360) 786-7606, or by emailing us at Mike.Padden@leg.wa.gov.
We’re in Olympia through the end of the regular legislative session, but we will be reopening our Spokane Valley office the week of May 6. 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 (Olympia): (360) 786-7606
Phone (District office): (509) 921-2460
Street address (Olympia): 106 Irv Newhouse Building, Capitol Campus, Olympia, WA 98504
Postal address (Olympia): PO Box 40404, Olympia, WA 98504
Street address (District office): 408 N. Mullan Rd., Suite 106, Spokane Valley, WA 99206 Email address: Mike.Padden@leg.wa.gov