Senate Democrats pass two bills that limit gun rights

Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Padden’s subscribers April 13, 2023. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, click here.

Dear friends and neighbors,

The rights of law-abiding Washingtonians to buy and use firearms took another step backward late last week when the Democrat-run Senate passed two measures, both requested by Gov. Inslee, that will restrict this constitutionally protected right. No Republicans supported either bill.

On Friday, the Senate voted 28-18 to pass House Bill 1143, which would prohibit someone from buying a firearm from a dealer unless the buyer has passed a background check and has completed a firearm-safety training program.

Then on Saturday, after hours of debates and votes on nearly 20 Republican-sponsored amendments (all defeated by the majority Democrats), the Senate voted 27-21 to approve House Bill 1240, which would ban the sale or purchase in our state of modern sporting rifles.

Under HB 1240, exceptions are included for those who now own or someday inherit such a firearm. Violating the proposed law would be a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Several of my Republican colleagues gave powerful and impassioned speeches about why HB 1240 should not be passed. Two speeches that stood out were by 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler and 10th District Sen. Ron Muzzall. (Click on their names to watch parts of their speeches.)

Read this Tacoma News Tribune story to see a list of the roughly 60 specific firearms that would be banned under HB 1240 and where the bill goes next.

What is especially frustrating and inconsistent about the Democrats’ approach to what they call “gun violence” is that they vote to approve proposals that deny freedom-loving people of their right to have certain guns, then turn around and pass a bill that would decriminalize the illegal use of firearms for repeat offenders. If the Legislature really cares about gun violence, legislators need to make sure that crimes committed with a firearm receive sufficient punishment. Decriminalizing their illegal actions is the wrong approach. It likely will lead to more crime in the future.         

In the days leading up to the two votes on the Senate floor, my office received 1,336 emails on HB 1143 and 1,652 emails on HB 1240. Many of these emails addressed both bills. Of all of these emails, only 100 or so were in favor of the two proposals. To those 4th District residents who took the time to call or email me about these two bills, thank you! I appreciate how you care about this important right.

Because the Senate amended both bills before passing them, the House of Representatives must vote to “concur” (agree) with those changes before they can be sent to the governor. 

If and when the governor signs these bills, I expect lawsuits will be filed against both proposals. It is very possible that they will be found unconstitutional.  

This newsletter covers several 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!

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden

Updated 4th District government guide now available

Every year or two, our office produces and mails a 4th District government guide to residents of our legislative district. With the help of my staff, we recently produced and sent out an updated government guide that includes helpful contact information on your local, state and federal government elected officials, as well as other government services. The online version of the new government guide can be found here.

If you did not receive the new government guide and would like a printed copy, please contact my legislative assistant, Irina, in our Olympia office by either calling at 360-786-7606 or emailing her at

Legislature passes bill expanding eligibility for property-tax exemption

Throughout this session, other lawmakers and I have called for the Legislature to provide tax relief for Washingtonians. While there won’t be any widespread tax relief this year, there is some modest good news to share.

The Legislature has approved a proposal that would make more people eligible to qualify for property-tax relief. House Bill 1355 would increase the income limit to qualify for existing property-tax exemptions. Under the bill, homeowners can get an exemption on their property taxes if they are at least 61 years old, unable to work because of a disability or meet one of several other qualifications. Applicants also must make less than their county’s income limit for the program. More information about this proposal can be found here.  

The Senate passed HB 1355 47-0 last Friday. The House approved it 96-0 in March. The measure now goes to the governor.

Senate passes flawed housing bill

On Tuesday, the Senate passed House Bill 1110, which would require certain cities planning under the state’s Growth Management Act to authorize minimum development densities on lots zoned predominately for residential use. I voted against it. This is an issue that should be addressed by locals, not the state. This legislation takes away local control on land-use decisions from the cities of Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake and Millwood. It gives the decision-making power to Olympia. You can watch my floor speech opposing HB 1110 by clicking here. Because the Senate amended HB 1110 before approving it, the proposal must return to the House for concurrence.

Padden bills update

Yesterday was “floor cutoff,” the final day for the full Senate to approve bills passed by the House earlier this session and for the full House to pass bills approved by the Senate. Three of my bills – plus a fourth bill that has been folded into a House proposal – are still alive after this key deadline. Sunday, April 23 is the last scheduled day of this year’s legislative session.

SB 5096 would aid businesses looking to adopt an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) corporate structure. This bipartisan proposal is on the House second-reading calendar. Because the proposal is considered necessary to implement the budget, it was exempt from yesterday’s floor cutoff.   

SB 5218 would make the sale of motorized wheelchairs and other mobility-improving equipment tax-exempt. This bill is scheduled for passage by the House Finance Committee tomorrow morning following a public hearing. Like, SB 5096, SB 5218 was exempt from this week’s floor cutoff deadline because it is considered necessary to implement the budget.

SB 5058 would help encourage home ownership in our state by making it easier for smaller condominium buildings to be constructed. It specifically would exempt buildings with 12 or fewer units that are no more than two stories from the definition of multiunit residential building. The bill was passed 97-0 by the House yesterday. Because the House did not amend it, the bill now goes to the governor.

HB 1493 deals with drunk driving. Even though it is a House proposal, it now includes language from SB 5032, my bipartisan proposal 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. Under the proposal, any person who has three or more prior DUI offenses within that 15-year lookback period would face a felony, rather than the current penalty of a gross misdemeanor. SB 5032 would give offenders a chance to undergo a highly structured treatment program. The Senate passed HB 1493 on a 48-0 vote Tuesday. You can watch my floor speech in favor of HB 1493 by clicking here. Because the Senate amended it, the bill returns to the House for “concurrence.”   

Abortion-pill stockpile proposal receives Senate hearing

A pro-abortion bill that was introduced only last week is being fast-tracked by Senate Democrats toward passage by the Legislature this session.

Senate Bill 5768 received a public hearing Monday in the Senate Ways and Committee, which passed the bill on a party-line vote yesterday. The proposal would allow the Department of Corrections to stockpile and distribute doses of the abortion pill Mifepristone. If and when SB 5768 reaches the Senate floor, I will vote against it. This proposal is part of an effort by Governor Inslee and some Democrats to turn Washington into an abortion destination state.

The SB 5768 hearing and vote came days after Gov. Inslee announced that he was stockpiling 30,000 doses of Mifepristone in case U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of Texas blocked federal Food and Drug Administration approval of the abortion-causing drug. The Texas judge issued a decision last Friday to block this abortion-causing drug. Later on the same day, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice from eastern Washington’s federal court issued an order prohibiting the FDA from pulling access to the drug. The issue over Mifepristone is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.     

Otis Orchards student serves as page

Brigitte Peterson (above), a sophomore at Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame, is serving as a Senate page this week. Brigitte, 15, is the daughter of Vincent and Amanda Peterson of Otis Orchards. She enjoys volleyball, softball, golf, skiing and playing the piano. Although Brigitte lives in the 4th District, 6th District Sen. Jeff Holy of Cheney was kind enough to sponsor her because I had already reached my quota of page sponsorships for this session.   

Session update video created for 4th District Slavic-speaking population

In recent years, the Slavic-speaking population in the 4th Legislative District has grown substantially, as immigrants from Russia and Ukraine have settled in our area. Just as I did a few years ago, I recently shot a video that is for our district’s Slavic-speaking population. The video is meant to welcome our Slavic-speaking neighbors and provide them with an update on the legislative session, including the Senate resolution that honors Ukrainian Americans. It also provides information on how to take English-as-a-second-language (ESL) classes at Spokane Community College. Special thanks to my legislative assistant, Irina Dolbinina, who is featured in the video translating what I say into the Russian language, which is very similar to the Ukrainian language. The video can be viewed by clicking here.  

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.