Public pressure helps kill bill raising property tax cap

Senate passes Padden bill to help pollinators

Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Padden’s subscribers February 15, 2024. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, click here.

Dear friends and neighbors,

A key deadline has been reached as the 2024 legislative session enters its final three weeks.

Tuesday was “Senate floor cutoff,” the last day for the Senate to vote on bills that originated in our chamber. Bills that are considered necessary to implement the upcoming state supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets are exempt from it, meaning we may consider them anytime before the Legislature adjourns March 7.

Now the session shifts into its next phase, in which the Senate is again devoting much of its time to committee meetings, and public hearings on bills passed by the House prior to its own floor cutoff.

Many bills, both good and bad, “die” when floor cutoff arrives due to a lack of support. Those that died include what many Republicans viewed as the worst bill of this session: Senate Bill 5770, which would have tripled the allowable growth rate of annual property taxes collected by local governments in Washington.

Cities, counties and other local governments currently may collect an additional 1% annually in property tax without having to seek voter approval. This limit was set by the voters in 2001’s Initiative 747 and confirmed by the Legislature in 2007, after I-747 was invalidated by the state Supreme Court. SB 5770 would have raised the annual cap from 1% to 3%. The most recent estimate provided by our budget and tax policy expert was that SB 5770 would cost Washington taxpayers $6 billion over 12 years and would compound from there.

The Legislative Building rotunda.

When SB 5770 received a public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee a few weeks ago, more than 9,300 people signed in to testify. Over 92% of them were against the bill, a clear sign of how unpopular it is with Washingtonians.

Despite the strong public opposition to the tax increase, Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee passed it out anyway. However, a continuous wave of calls and emails to senators demanding that the bill not be passed led the prime sponsor of SB 5770, 43rd District Senator Jamie Pedersen of Seattle, to announce late last week he would not seek further passage of the bill this session.

This is a huge win for taxpayers! But don’t be surprised if Democrats bring this bill back next year or sometime in the future.     

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 representing you in Olympia!

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden

Senate budgets to be considered soon

This is the time of the legislative session when state budget proposals are unveiled and considered. 

The Senate is expected to unveil its supplemental operating, capital and transportation budget proposals over the next several days after budget writers have worked closely with Senate staff the past several weeks in crafting these spending plans. 

In fact, the Senate capital budget will receive its public hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee this afternoon.

The Senate operating and transportation budgets are expected to be unveiled early next week. 

Budget writers in the House of Representatives also will come out with their operating, capital and transportation budget proposals. After the Senate and House each passes its own versions of these three budgets, leaders from each chamber will meet to work on compromise versions for the Legislature to consider in the final week of session.  

Senate passes bill helping bees and other pollinators

A bill I introduced that was requested by a Mount Spokane High School student to help bees and other pollinators cleared the Senate this week.

The Senate voted 48-1 to pass Senate Bill 5934, a bipartisan measure that aims to promote the use of pollinator-friendly shrubs or bushes in landscaping. The proposal now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

During my floor speech on the measure, I told Senate colleagues how pollinators, including bees and butterflies, play a very important role in the pollination of crops, contributing to the production of fruits, vegetables and nuts. In fact, 75% of the world’s food supply depends on pollinators. Taking steps to protect and enhance pollinators is very important to the environment but also important to agriculture practices.

Mount Spokane High School senior Julia Costello approached me this past fall about sponsoring the bill.

Julia is a Girl Scout working to finish requirements to earn the Gold Award, which is equivalent to earning the Eagle Scout award as a Boy Scout. One of Julia’s Gold Award requirements is working with a legislator on sponsoring a bill. Julia made a compelling case why improving pollinators’ habitat is beneficial. I’m pleased the Senate passed this bill. Hopefully, Julia will be able to testify in person when this bill receives a public hearing in the House Local Government Committee on Tuesday next week.

In late January, Spokane Conservation District Director Vicki Carter sent a letter in support of SB 5934.    

Under the bill, a local government may encourage but need not require applicants for project or commercial-building permits to include pollinator-friendly plants in any landscaped area.   

UPDATE: Democrats still refuse to hold public hearings on the six initiatives

This chart shows the six initiatives sent to the Legislature this session. Democrats have refused to schedule public hearings on them.  

Democrat leaders in the Senate and House have continued to refuse scheduling public hearings on the six initiatives that were sent to the Legislature earlier this session. These measures each received more than 400,000 signatures and collectively over 2.6 million signatures.

Here’s what each would do:

  • Initiative 2113 deals with police pursuits. It would erase certain requirements that since 2021 have prevented law-enforcement officers from pursuing a suspect unless they think someone has committed certain crimes, including a violent offense or driving while impaired. It has been sent to the Senate Law and Justice Committee for consideration.
  • I-2117 would repeal the state’s costly climate policy, called “cap-and-trade” by some but “cap-and-tax” or “cap-and-gouge,” by opponents who note this law has caused gas prices to rise substantially. The climate policy became state law in 2021 and took full effect early last year. It is now in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee.
  • I-2081 would give parents the right to review K-12 instructional materials and require parental notification of school-provided medical services. It has been referred to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.
  • I-2109 would repeal the state capital-gains tax that was passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature in 2021. It is now in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
  • I-2111 would ban any local or state government in our state from imposing an income tax. Like I-2109, this measure is in the Ways and Means Committee.
  • I-2124 would allow people to opt out of the mandatory payroll tax for the state-run long-term care program. It is before the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.

Legislators have three options with initiatives to the Legislature: 1) adopt the initiative as written, in which case it becomes law; 2) refuse to pass it, which would result in the measure automatically being placed on the statewide ballot next fall; 3) propose and approve an alternative initiative, in which case both the original initiative and the alternative would both appear together on the fall statewide ballot.

Senate Republican staff recently created interesting videos about several of these initiatives. They are worth watching. The videos cover:

  • I-2109 and I-2111 (repealing capital gains tax, banning income taxes)
  • I-2117 (repealing “cap and trade”)
  • I-2113 (restoring police pursuits)

The latest news on the initiatives is that Senate Democratic Leader Andy Billig and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins announced yesterday that they will not hold hearings on I-2117 or I-2109. That means both measures will almost certainly be placed on this November’s statewide ballot.

Speaker Jinkins said she didn’t know yet whether hearings would be held on the other four initiatives.

It is disappointing that the Democrats have not scheduled hearings on these six measures. Citizens’ voices should be allowed to be heard on them.

It is very likely that all six measures will wind up on the statewide ballot this fall for Washington voters to decide.

Three Padden bills receive House hearings yesterday

Senator Padden testifies before the House Housing Committee Wednesday.

Yesterday was especially busy, as three bills that I introduced received public hearings in House committees after being approved by the Senate earlier this session.

Senate Bill 5056 was heard by the House Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee. This proposal would allow prosecutors to seek up two additional years on a sentence for first-degree robbery offenders if they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is a habitual property offender. There has been an explosion of property crimes, including thefts of vehicles, catalytic converters and electric-charging equipment. This bill tries to keep habitual, repeat offenders behind bars for longer periods of time. That would reduce the property-crime rate substantially.

The House Housing Committee held public hearings on two of my proposals:

Senate Bill 5792 – Would exclude buildings with 12 or fewer units that are no more than three stories high from the definition of “multi-unit residential building” if one story is utilized for above- or below-ground parking or retail space. This bill builds on my condo-construction measure from 2023 (SB 5058, signed into law), which is aimed at creating more housing options for Washington’s middle class. Condominiums provide an affordable path to homeownership for first-time homebuyers. 

Senate Bill 5840 – Under this proposal, leases would not require acknowledgement, witnesses or seals.

Next Wednesday, February 21, is the deadline for House policy committees to pass Senate bills.

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.