Back in Olympia for start of 2023 legislative session

Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Padden’s subscribers Dec. 19, 2022. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, click here.

Dear friends and neighbors,

The 2023 legislative session is underway. The 105-day session began Monday with the traditional opening-day ceremony in the Senate chamber, in which new or recently reelected senators were sworn into office by state Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez.

With that pomp and circumstance behind us, the Senate now shifts much of its time to committee meetings. Each bill is referred to a committee, where it may receive a public hearing and possibly a vote – steps that are typically determined by the committee chair. We will be in “committee mode” for the next six weeks, though occasional floor sessions will be held to debate and vote on bills.

It was nice to see all of my fellow senators and many Senate staff for the first time since the 2020 legislative session ended nearly three years ago. The past two sessions were not conducted in the manner that many of us wanted, as citizens were prevented from having direct, in-person contact with their legislators due to COVID-19. It’s good to see that citizens will be able to actually meet in person with legislators during session.

Here are some resources to help you better navigate this 105-day “long” session.

  • My legislative website| Here you will find my news releases and clips, newsletters, bills, contact information, biography, and other information.
  • The 4th District Government Guide| In this resource book, you will find the phone numbers, email addresses and offices of city, county, state and federal officials who represent you.
  • The Capitol Buzz| A daily recap of the top online news stories. Click the link to subscribe.
  • TVW| You can watch live broadcasts of floor and committee action online.
  • Legislature’s website| Bill reports, committee agendas, and information about upcoming activities in the Legislature are here.
  • State agencies| This website is where you can find all the state agencies, boards, and commissions.
  • Washington Votes| The Washington Policy Center’s vote tracking website.

For Bill Tracking

  1. Go to
  2. On the left-hand panel, click “Bill Information.”
  3. If you know the bill number, enter it in the search field and click enter.
  4. Don’t have a bill number? Under the section “Standard Reports,”you’ll find alternative tracking tools. You may search based on topic, within a specific biennium, and more.

If you have questions about how to participate in state government this year or thoughts to share on anything in this e-newsletter, please give me a call or send me an email.

Thank you, as always, for the honor of serving as your state senator!

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden

Meet “Team Padden” for this session

I’m pleased to introduce my legislative staff for the 2023 session. My legislative assistant, Scott Staley (left), joined the office last week after spending many years as the legislative assistant for past 4th District state Reps. Larry Crouse, Leonard Christian and Bob McCaslin. My session aide is Irina Dolbinina (middle). Irina graduated from high school in Vancouver, Washington, earned a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Washington State University-Vancouver, and then graduated from Seattle University’s School of Law. Irina has returned to my office for this year’s legislative session after interning for me in 2017. Ethan Mettlin (right) is my session intern this year. Ethan is a senior at Central Washington University who is majoring in business administration. He plans to attend law school in the future.

Several public-safety bills sponsored for 2023 session

Sen. Padden asks a question during a Senate Law and Justice Committee meeting last month in Olympia.

Public safety will be one of the key issues for legislators to address this session. In fact, a recent statewide poll showed that 23% of respondents chose public safety as their most important issue.

Following months of working with policy stakeholders and citizens like you, I have introduced several bills for this year’s session that aim to provide meaningful solutions to problems facing our state. I encourage you to follow these proposals this session as they move through the legislative process. As was the case in 2022, this year’s focus is to fix what the majority Democrats have done in recent years to weaken our criminal-justice system. My goal is to enact common-sense policies that work for all of Washington.

Here are just a few of the measures I have prime-sponsored and will be working to advance this year:

  • SB 5032 – Increase DUI “lookback” and sentencing
  • SB 5033 – Custodial sexual misconduct
  • SB 5034 – Vehicular pursuits
  • SB 5035 – Controlled substance possession
  • SB 5042 – Vascular neck restraints
  • SB 5055 – Private prison contracting
  • SB 5056 – Habitual property offenders
  • SB 5058 – Multiunit residential buildings
  • SB 5090 – Torts
  • SB 5096 – Employee ownership
  • SB 5098 – Down Syndrome/abortion
  • SB 5108 – Law enforcement training
  • SB 5116 – Bail fund oversight
  • SB 5218 – Sales tax exemption for complex rehabilitation products
  • SB 5226 – Active warrants priority/Department of Corrections

To see a list of all of the bills that I am prime-sponsoring or co-sponsoring this session, click here.

Honoring a Central Valley student 

Chantel Fan (left), a Chinese American leader in the Spokane Valley, presented a certificate to Lucy He Monday night for winning a national essay contest. With them are Lucy’s parents. 

Central Valley High School student Lucy He has received a legislative certificate of appreciation for winning the Chinese American History Month national essay contest. Chantel Fan, a representative of the Spokane Chinese community, presented He with the certificate during the Central Valley School Board’s meeting Monday night.

Though I was in Olympia, I appeared remotely via Zoom to speak about Lucy, who won the contest sponsored by Asians for Equality. 

It’s a tremendous honor for Lucy to win this national essay contest, and it was my privilege to congratulate her on this outstanding achievement.

Senate Bill 5000, which would designate January as Americans of Chinese Descent History Month, received a public hearing yesterday in the Senate State Government and Elections Committee, with a committee vote on the proposal slated for tomorrow at 8 a.m. You can view the video of the SB 5000 public hearing testimony here.

Opposition to Inslee proposal to delay construction of North-South Freeway

An aerial photo of the North-South Freeway construction.

For decades, perhaps the most anticipated highway project in the Spokane region has been the North-South Freeway (or North-South Corridor), which would run from the north end to Spokane to the south end of the city, allowing drivers to avoid busy and congested surface arterials like Division Street.

Although significant funding has been approved by the Legislature for the NSC in recent years, Gov. Inslee apparently is not in favor in seeing it completed anytime soon. As a recent KXLY story noted, the governor’s proposed 2023-25 state transportation budget would actually delay the project by six years, so instead of its expected completion in 2027-29, it would not be finished until 2033-35.

It’s unconscionable that the governor would want to delay this this important and long-planned highway project. I don’t understand Inslee’s rationale for wanting to delay it. If anything, the North-South Freeway project should be accelerated so it can be completed sooner.

It’s encouraging that the entire legislative delegation for the Spokane region (Republicans and Democrats alike) are in agreement that this project should not be delayed. Fortunately, the governor’s proposed transportation budget is just that – a proposal. It will be up to the Legislature to actually craft and approve the new two-year transportation budget. I expect there will be a strong bipartisan push from our Spokane-area legislators to make sure the NSC project remains on schedule, if not accelerated.

Freedom Caucus: Inslee FINALLY takes a stand on homelessness

Three of the four Freedom Caucus members gather on the Senate floor for the first day of session: 31st District Sen. Phil Fortunato, 19th District Sen. Jeff Wilson and 4th District Sen. Mike Padden. Not pictured is the fourth member of the Freedom Caucus, 2nd District Sen. Jim McCune.

In recent years, our state’s homelessness problem has worsened, with more homeless camps popping up in various communities. According to one article, Washington has the fifth-highest homeless population among states, behind California, New York, Florida and Texas – all much more populated than our state.

In the east Spokane area, “Camp Hope” along I-90 has generated plenty of attention and controversy since it sprang up last year, with local government officials unable to remove the camp’s inhabitants until at least late January because of a recent court order, despite the cold winter season now upon us. The Spokesman-Review recently ran a story about how the general contractor in charge of completing the reconstruction of Thor and Freya streets will receive a $70,000 settlement from the city of Spokane as compensation for damages and other claims blamed on Camp Hope. 

During the proliferation of homeless people in the state, Gov. Inslee has been largely silent on this troubling issue. However, during last Thursday’s legislative preview forum, Inslee told reporters and editors that homeless camps are a blight on communities and that Washingtonians are demanding “an end to the squalor in their neighborhoods.”

You can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to hear the governor speak so frankly about homelessness and finally acknowledge that this is a serious problem that must be addressed this year.

Two days after Inslee’s comments, the other three members of the Senate Freedom Caucus (31st District Sen. Phil Fortunato, 2nd District Sen. Jim McCune and 19th District Sen. Jeff Wilson) and I publicly stated how we were pleased to see the governor taking a stand on this issue but wondering what took him so long. As noted in our news release, I’m glad the governor is finally realizing that we have a serious homeless housing problem. The state has needed to address this for quite some time. Hopefully, Democrats in the Legislature will join with us in taking effective action on it this session.

Contact us!

If you have a question or concern about state government, please do not hesitate to contact our office. During the session we are conducting business from our Senate office in Olympia. We are here to serve you!

Phone: (360) 786-7606

Olympia Office: 215 Legislative Modular Building, Olympia, WA 98504-0404

Email address:

PLEASE NOTE: Any email or documents you provide to this office may be subject to disclosure under RCW 42.56. If you would prefer to communicate by phone, please contact Sen. Padden’s Olympia office at (360) 786-7606.

To request public records from Sen. Padden, please contact Randi Stratton, the designated public records officer for the Secretary of the Senate and Senate members.