Sen. Padden’s office and Spokane Conservation District hosting pollinator-habitat workshop June 25 

Police-pursuit initiative takes effect and will reduce traffic deaths

Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Padden’s subscribers June 18, 2024. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, click here.

Dear friends and neighbors,

Area landscapers, home builders and others who plant shrubs are invited to attend a free pollinator-habitat workshop on Tuesday, June 25, that the Spokane Conservation District and I are co-sponsoring. 

The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the Spokane Conservation District headquarters at 4422 E. 8th Ave. In the Spokane Valley. 

People interested in attending are asked to RSVP. For that or additional information, contact my district office at 509-921-2460. 

Here is the program for the pollinator habitat workshop on June 25. 

This workshop allows landscapers, builders and city officials to hear about ways to install pollinator habitats in new home developments. Pollinators, including bees and butterflies, play a very important role in the pollination of crops, contributing to the production of fruits, vegetables and nuts. They play a vital role in sustaining agriculture. We hope the workshop will help landscapers and others to learn ways to protect and enhance pollinators in our region, which is very important to both agriculture and the environment. 

Pollinator-friendly spaces in urban landscapes offer tremendous benefits,” said Spokane Conservation District Director Vicki Carter. “Not only do they contribute to the beauty of our communities, but they serve as educational platforms creating an awareness about the crucial role pollinators play in sustaining our ecosystems by preserving biodiversity and reducing resource-intensive practices.” 

Guest speakers will include Katie Buckley of the state Department of Agriculture, Beth Mort of Zinnia Designs, Aubrey Hoxie of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Services and Kristen Zimmer from the city of Spokane. 

During its 2024 session, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 5934, a bipartisan measure I introduced that aims to promote the use of pollinator-friendly shrubs or bushes in landscaping. The idea for the pollinator-habitat legislation came from Mount Spokane High School senior and Girl Scout Julia Costello, who requested that I sponsor the bill as part of a requirement for her to earn the Gold Award, which is the Girl Scout equivalent to earning the Eagle Scout as a Boy Scout. SB 5934 was signed on March 28 by Governor Inslee, with Julia and her parents in attendance. Julia will attend the workshop. 

Under the proposal, a local government may encourage applicants for project or commercial-building permits to include pollinator-friendly plants in any landscaped area, and it may provide pertinent information about such plants.   

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

Police-pursuit initiative takes effect, should help reduce traffic deaths 

Nearly two weeks ago, Initiative 2113, which restores police pursuits in Washington, went into effect June 6th. This initiative, which was approved by the Legislature last March, should result in fewer traffic deaths in the state. 

Washington state is experiencing an increase in fatal and serious-injury crashes on our roads and highways that is shocking and heartbreaking. I-2113 will help officers apprehend dangerous drivers and make our roads and highways safer.  

A recent Washington Traffic Safety Commission report revealed the state has reached a 33-year high for traffic fatalities. The report showed 810 people were killed in crashes involving a motor vehicle last year, an increase from 743 killed in 2022.  

Of these 810 traffic deaths, nearly half (400) involved a drug- or alcohol-impaired driver, while 251 involved excessive speed, 171 involved not wearing a seatbelt or other restraint, and 135 involved a distracted driver.  

There are several factors that have resulted in the high number of traffic fatalities in recent years, but a key one has been the inability for officers to pursue vehicles in many situations. With I-2113 in effect, officers can pursue drivers in more instances and remove them from our highways. 

I-2113 should help reverse the growing crime problem in Washington. Crime is a great concern for citizens and communities throughout our state. In fact, we have reached a crisis point in our state because of skyrocketing crime. 

After the Legislature passed laws a few years ago that restricted law-enforcement officers from pursuing suspects, criminals became more emboldened. They have acted in a more brazen manner as they commit crimes. The result has been a sharp increase in auto theft, retail theft, burglary and other property crimes. Making matters worse, many auto thieves have used their stolen vehicles to smash into ‘pot shops’ to steal cash, or they use these cars as battering rams to break into other stores to steal merchandise.     

With Initiative 2113 now in effect, law-enforcement officers again are able to pursue suspects instead of watching them drive away. 

The Washington State Patrol recorded nearly 8,000 incidents of drivers refusing to stop for troopers in the years after a controversial 2021 state law restricted police officers from chasing suspects.  

Sen. Padden receives award at “Energy Summit” 

Modern Electric Water Company’s Chelsea Martin presented me with the company’s Statesmanship Legacy Award June 4. 

On June 4, I was honored and humbled to receive an award while attending the Washington Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Energy Summit in Coeur d’Alene. 

Chelsea Martin, the government affairs manager for Modern Electric Water Company, presented me with the company’s Statesmanship Legacy Award “in recognition of his 28-year tenure in the Washington State Legislature.” 

In it’s news release about the award, Modern Electric CEO Joe Morgan said, “Senator Mike Padden’s unwavering dedication and tireless advocacy for the people of Spokane Valley and the state of Washington have left an indelible mark on our community.” 

Thanks to Modern Electric for this special award!  

Little progress made on retail theft 

Capitol Lake with the Legislative Building in the background. 

One of the most serious crime problems in our state, as well as America, is organized retail theft, which hurts businesses, workers and consumers in Washington. 

The Washington Retail Association last year said theft costs businesses $2.7 billion a year statewide. 

Earlier this month, the (Vancouver) Columbian published an editorial that focused on organized retail theft and the state’s efforts to combat it. Two years ago, the state Organized Retail Crime Theft Task Force was created. So far, the task force has announced only one prosecution – last November. One can only hope this task force will produce more prosecutions than just one. 

Organized retail theft is an issue that has been on the Legislature’s radar screen, but Democrats have refused to pass Senate Republican bills to address it, including my Senate Bill 5056, which would have allowed a court discretion to sentence a person found beyond a reasonable doubt to be a habitual property offender to an additional 24 months for a Class B felony, and an additional 12 months for a Class C felony. The Senate this year passed it 38-10, but the House refused to give it a vote. 

Another Republican measure that was not passed by the Legislature this year was Senate Bill 5160, prime-sponsored by 15th District Senator Nikki Torres, R-Pasco. Under Senate Bill 5160, a person would be guilty of second-degree organized retail theft for stealing property with a cumulative value of at least $750 with two or more accomplices who enter the store within five minutes of one another. 

The Legislature next year needs to take stronger steps to stop organized retail theft in our state. 

New 4th District Government Guide still available at many locations 

As mentioned before, there is a new 4th District Government Guide for districts residents to use. The free guide includes names and contact information for officials at the federal, statewide, legislative and local government levels. It also provides other helpful information. If you would like to have a copy of the new government guide mailed to you, please call my legislative assistant, Annalise Hemingway, at 509-921-2460 or email her at 

There also are copies of the updated government guide at these locations: 

  • Millwood City Hall (9103 E Frederick Ave., Spokane) 
  • Argonne Library (4322 N Argonne Road, Spokane) 
  • Spokane Valley City Hall (10210 E Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley) 
  • Spokane Valley Library (22 N. Herald Road, Spokane Valley) 
  • Liberty Lake City Hall (22710 E Country Vista Drive, Liberty Lake) 
  • Liberty Lake Library (23123 E Mission Ave., Liberty Lake) 
  • Otis Orchards Library (22324 E Wellesley Ave., Otis Orchards) 
  • Spokane Valley Senior Center (2426 N Discovery Place, Spokane Valley) 

Radio interview with Lars Larson

Last Tuesday, I did a live interview with Portland-based radio talk-show host Lars Larson, whose show is carried by many stations throughout the Northwest. We discussed two of the initiatives passed by the Legislature earlier this year – police pursuits and parental rights – and what the Legislature has and hasn’t done in addressing the fentanyl crisis. You can listen to the interview here.  

Local school district faces menu limits, thanks to the state 

Last week, The Center Square ran a story that should make many Valley residents take notice. The article was about how the Central Valley School District might raise the price of its breakfast and lunch options for the upcoming school year. 

This part of the article explains the state’s role in the potential cost increase for meals for students in the school district: 

The district’s Nutrition Services program relies on meal revenue and funding from state and federal programs to support itself, including the Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP, implemented last school year to provide free meals to qualifying students and schools.  

Groh said CVSD currently uses CEP to provide free meals to all students at 13 of its 27 schools and program sites, with one more location expected to join next year. However, the downside is that CEP limits the district’s ability to generate additional revenue through raising meal prices.   

Upon the end of the school year, CVSD estimates it will have served approximately 350,000 breakfasts and 1,012,383 lunches, including the meals of qualifying CEP students and schools and those who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals through other programs. 

The Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction estimates that CEP alone will cost taxpayers approximately $71 million annually for the over 575,000 students who qualify.  

A special anniversary 

In the area just outside my Olympia legislative office, I have several quotes by former President Ronald Reagan on the walls. Visitors to my office often paused to look at them before entering my office to chat with me about legislative matters. Last Wednesday marked the 37th anniversary of one of Reagan’s more famous quotes, which came from a speech he delivered at the Berlin Wall on June 12, 1987, during the period when Berlin was divided, and the east side of the city was walled off by the Communists: “Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” As older readers will remember, Mr. Gorbachev was then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. 

Former President Reagan had a unique ability to eloquently and forcefully communicate his message. 

Contact us!

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

Phone: 509-921-2460

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.