The following newsletter was sent to subscribers to Sen. Padden’s Report From Olympia, April 6, 2017. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletters, click here.
Dear friends and neighbors,
Most of us – if not all – were disappointed Monday night when the Gonzaga Bulldogs narrowly lost to North Carolina for the NCAA national basketball title. It was a tough defeat for a team that had come so far. But what matters is that the Zags played hard right to the end – and until the final minute the game could have gone either way.
This was a triumph of a culture of character – a point I raised on the Senate floor Friday when we passed a resolution honoring the Bulldogs’ success. Coach Mark Few (right) has been with the program 28 years, 18 years as head coach, and in this age of instant gratification and views that change almost overnight, his commitment and perseverance has served as an example for the team. His leadership is reflected in the dedication and good sportsmanship of the team itself. While the defeat was a blow after a near-perfect season, the fact that a small college in Eastern Washington could achieve second place symbolizes the virtues that have made Gonzaga University a destination for some of our nation’s brightest students.
(Photo credit: Dirk Hansen, Wikimedia Commons)
Sen. Mike Padden
Key votes on Law and Justice bills
Two critical Law and Justice bills I have sponsored were passed by the House Appropriations Committee Tuesday, bringing them one step closer to the final critical votes on the House floor. They are:
Department of Corrections reform: SB 5294 enacts recommendations of the Senate Law and Justice Committee following what may be the worst management failure in the history of Washington state government. Some 3,000 violent and dangerous prisoners were released early, many of them after DOC learned its computers were calculating sentences improperly. Two deaths and numerous crimes have been linked to felons who should have been behind bars. Though the House Public Safety Committee made major changes to the bill, its continued progress through the House ensures this important legislation will figure in the Legislature’s final debates.
Felony DUIs: SB 5037 would make the 4th DUI a felony in Washington state. Currently Washington has the weakest felony DUI law in the country. The bill would allow longer sentences and prison time for about 200 offenders each year. Though the Senate has passed the bill unanimously six times since 2015, House leaders have yet to allow a vote on the House floor.
A tough negotiation over the budget
For the last two weeks, the budget has been the top news in Olympia – first the Senate passed a no-new-tax budget of $43 billion. Then the House followed with a $45.9 billion spending plan that doesn’t get the job done. The House failed to take the tough vote for the $3 billion in new taxes its budget would require. This refusal to do the heavy lifting makes it difficult to negotiate – it is unclear whether the House has the votes to back up its position.
A story this week in the Spokesman-Review, “GOP says House vote on tax package needed for budget negotiations,” outlines our concerns with the House tactic:
Because of the differences in the two spending plans, and the contention by Republicans that the House Democratic tax package couldn’t pass the full House, little negotiations are taking place on a compromise budget.
“There’ve been conversations, but negotiations are very, very difficult,” [Senate Majority Leader Mark] Schoesler said.
In last week’s newsletter, we asked whether the governor should accept campaign contributions in election years from the public-employee unions with which he bargains. A bill this year would have prohibited the practice. Here’s what you thought of the issue.
Thanks to Karlton Hisaw and Vanessa Miranda for serving as Senate pages!
Last week we were proud to sponsor two pages. They were Karlton Hisaw, 15, a 10th grader from Tenino High School, and Vanessa Miranda, 14, an 8th grader from St. Mary’s Catholic School. Karlton is the son of Melanie and Ed Hisaw of Tenino, and is the grandson of the late Bob and Vivian Irons of Spokane Valley. Vanessa is the daughter of Greg and Christine Miranda of Spokane Valley.
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
Mail: PO Box 40404, Olympia, WA, 98504