Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Padden’s subscribers Feb. 22, 2023. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, click here.
Dear friends and neighbors,
This year’s legislative session is reaching a key transition point. During the previous six weeks, the Senate devoted much of its time to committee meetings to hold public hearings on Senate bills that had been assigned there.
Last Friday was the deadline for the Senate’s policy committees to pass Senate bills that originated there. This week, the only Senate committee meetings being held are for its two fiscal panels, the Transportation Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. These two panels have until this Friday to approve bills sent there earlier this session.
Starting on Monday, the Senate will devote several hours daily, from morning to evening, to floor sessions in which we will debate and vote on bills that survived the committee process. Our “floor session” phase will last about two weeks until we reach the Senate floor “cutoff” on March 8. That’s the final day for the full Senate to pass its own bills except for proposals necessary to implement the upcoming state operating, capital and transportation budgets.
We will know soon whether either chamber will be in a position to vote on extreme legislation that should greatly concern gun owners and Second Amendment advocates.
House Bill 1143 would force Washingtonians to take a safety class to obtain a permit to purchase a firearm, along with other restrictions on dealers and purchasers. It already was passed by the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee late last month, and received a public hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on Feb. 8. It is scheduled to be passed by House Appropriations tomorrow.
Senate Bill 5232 is not identical to HB 1143, but it’s close enough to be just as objectionable. I opposed it in the Law and Justice Committee, but my Democratic colleagues pushed the bill through last week. It is before the Ways and Means Committee, which would have to take action this week for the bill to remain alive.
These proposals threaten the rights of law-abiding citizens, and would increase financial burdens on Washington families, while doing nothing to address the irresponsible and illegal use of guns in our state. They both appear to violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Bruen decision.
My Republican colleague, 39th District Senator Keith Wagoner of Sedro-Woolley, wrote an excellent guest editorial, published last week in the (Tacoma) News Tribune, in which he explains why he opposes this legislation, which was requested by Governor Inslee.
I will keep a close eye on these proposals and work hard to stop them.
This newsletter covers other issues and events happening in Olympia in this past week.
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!
Senator Mike Padden
Ways and Means Committee passes “DUI lookback” bill
Earlier this week, the Senate Ways and Means Committee approved Senate Bill 5032, a measure that I introduced that would expand the period for reviewing prior convictions of impaired driving to 15 years, from the 10 years now in state law, when determining whether a new offense of impaired driving is charged as a felony. The proposal would increase the penalty from a gross misdemeanor to a felony offense for any person who has three or more prior DUI offenses within that “lookback” period.
Washington state has seen an alarming increase in traffic deaths over the past few years, and drunk driving and drug-impaired driving are two leading causes. This bill would help get the most dangerous drivers off the road and into treatment. Our state has seen too many accidents and fatalities caused by drunk and drug-impaired drivers, especially repeat offenders. This bill could help reverse this tragic trend.
Many traffic fatalities in the state involve drivers who have had as many as eight DUI offenses, but the current 10-year lookback period is not long enough to allow the state to impose stronger punishment against such offenders.
Repeat impaired-driving offenders commit most of the vehicular homicides and vehicular assaults in Washington. This is a bill to try to prevent those horrible, senseless crimes.
SB 5032 would give offenders a chance to undergo a highly structured treatment program.
According to statistics compiled by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Washington road deaths reached a 20-year high in 2021. There were 670 traffic deaths in 2021, including 272 fatalities involving drug-impaired driving and 155 deaths involving alcohol-impaired driving. In 2020, Washington had 574 traffic fatalities, including 214 involving drug-impaired driving and 135 involving alcohol-impaired driving.
The commission has a current preliminary estimate of 745 traffic fatalities in 2022. No 2022 figures on traffic deaths involving drug- or alcohol-impaired driving are available yet.
SB 5032 now goes to the Senate Rules Committee, which decides which bills can proceed to the Senate floor for a vote by the entire Senate.
Joining Republican legislative leaders in front of statehouse reporters
During the session, the two top legislators on our side of the aisle – Senate Republican Leader John Braun and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox – hold a weekly Republican “media availability” during which they share their thoughts on issues facing the Legislature, and answer questions from reporters.
I joined the two Republican leaders and 7th District Republican Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber during this week’s media availability with reporters. Several topics were covered, including police pursuits, drug offenses and other public-safety issues, K-12 education, child care and early learning, staff levels for nursing, taxes and a proposed road-usage charge (also known as a “mileage tax”). I discussed how Washington’s restrictive police-pursuit law is resulting in our state’s cannabis shops being victimized more than in any other state in the U.S. You can watch my comments on that issue here. I also explained why Senate Republicans opposed a proposal, Senate Bill 5257, which would require a minimum amount of time for school recess each school day. You can watch my comments here.
You can watch the entire media availability here.
Former Spokane County judge and wife visit Capitol
On Tuesday, former Judge Greg Tripp and his wife JoAnn, a retired math teacher at Shadle Park High School, visited the Senate chamber during their short visit to Olympia. For several years, Greg and I served together as Spokane County District Court judges. It was nice to see both of them.
Gas prices continue rising after Washington ‘carbon tax’ activated
Last week’s e-newsletter included a section about how fuel prices in Washington have increased significantly since January 1, when the “cap-and-trade” program, created by a Democrat-sponsored law in 2021, was implemented.
Earlier this week, The Center Square published a story about how this was the sixth week that saw fuel prices rise after the implementation of the state’s “carbon tax” two years after Democratic majorities in the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5126, the so-called Climate Commitment Act.
This segment of The Center Square story is especially worth reading:
On top of these higher prices, as of Jan. 1 of this year, Washingtonians also have a new cap-and-trade system to pay for at the pump.
According to a recent report by the Washington Policy Center’s Environmental Director Todd Myers, gas prices in Washington have already spiked 10 cents per gallon relative to California and Oregon.
“What the data show is that prices in Washington state jumped suddenly over the last two weeks much more than the other states on the West Coast,” the report stated.
Ultimately, the full impact of the new carbon tax won’t be known until regular auctions occur. The report notes that the new law “sets a minimum price of $22/metric ton of CO2, which translates to 17 cents per gallon. The price could go as high as $81/MT which would be 65 cents per gallon.”
Otis Orchards student serves as page
One of the highlights of being a senator during a legislative session is meeting pages from the local community who work in the Legislature. This week I had the honor of getting to know Julia Petersen, a sophomore at Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame, who is working as a Senate page this week. Julia is the daughter of Vincent and Amanda Petersen of Otis Orchards. Julia plays piano and sings, and she plays volleyball. She also is involved in Newspaper Club. The Senate Republican Caucus sponsored Julia as a page at my request.
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: Mike.Padden@leg.wa.gov
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.