Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Padden’s subscribers April 20, 2023. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, click here.
It was great to meet with former Seattle Mariners catcher Dan Wilson during his visit to the Capitol this morning.
Dear friends and neighbors,
After more than 100 days of committee meetings and floor sessions in Olympia, this year’s regular legislative session will end this Sunday, April 23.
Before the Legislature wraps up for the year, there are still important tasks for the Senate and House to finish, including passage of a new two-year state operating budget. The two chambers also will need to reach final agreement on new two-year state capital and transportation budgets.
The Senate and House also will spend these final days negotiating on a handful of bills that are “in dispute,” meaning that one chamber disagrees with changes to a bill made by the second chamber.
During a typical Senate floor session, members will debate and vote on a number of bills and amendments. But occasionally we also sponsor resolutions that are read aloud on the floor. The resolutions often recognize or honor notable individuals or group in our state. Sometimes, these resolutions recognize sports teams or athletes. One of the Northwest’s beloved pro sports teams was honored today.
The Senate took a couple of minutes from today’s busy floor schedule to pass a resolution congratulating the Seattle Mariners on reaching the 2022 American League playoffs and ending their 21-year postseason drought. After the resolution was read aloud and then approved by the Senate, a number of senators spoke about the team and its exciting season. You can watch a video of my floor speech on the resolution here.
Earlier this morning, before the resolution was read on the floor, former Mariners catcher Dan Wilson came to the Capitol to meet with fans, sign autographs and have photos taken. I enjoyed chatting with Dan and hearing his thoughts on the current Mariners team and a couple of fun stories about his playing days.
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!
Senator Mike Padden
Legislature passes two Padden bills this week
I was pleased that the Legislature this week approved two of my bills.
Senate Bill 5218 would make the sale of motorized wheelchairs and other mobility-improving equipment tax-exempt. The House unanimously passed it on Monday after the Senate unanimously approved it on March 31. It has been sent to the governor for his signature. No signing date has been scheduled yet, but bills passed by the Legislature that are delivered to the governor more than five days before the Legislature adjourns must be acted on within five days (not counting Sundays) – otherwise they automatically become law. The governor has 20 days (except Sundays) to act on bills that are delivered fewer than five days before session ends.
Senate Bill 5096 would aid businesses looking to adopt an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) corporate structure. The House unanimously passed an amended version of this bill on Monday. The Senate yesterday voted 48-0 to concur with the House’s changes, so this bill has been approved by the Legislature and soon will go to the governor.
Last week, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 5058, which 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. It was sent to Governor Inslee on Tuesday.
DUI lookback bill is still alive as part of HB 1493
House Bill 1493, which deals with impaired driving, 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 SB 5032, 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.
After the Senate last week passed the version of HB 1493 that includes the language in SB 5032, the House on Monday refused to concur with the Senate’s changes to that bill, so the Senate today amended the measure in a way that will result in the House giving its final approval. Once that happens, the bill will go to the governor.
Updated 4th District government guide still 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Controversial bills still alive as session nears end
Over the past several days, the Senate and House reached agreement on a large number of bills. Most of these compromise measures received strong bipartisan support in the Senate.
But there have been some bad bills that I could not support that either have been passed by the Democrat majorities in the House and Senate or are still alive at this point of session.
One very controversial bill that is still alive is Senate Bill 5599. Under this proposal, parents of runaway children seeking gender-affirming care would not be notified by a licensed shelter or host home if the child was taken in there. (The bill would require a shelter or host home to report to the Department of Children, Youth and Families within 72 hours of the child being there.) This proposal has caused a tidal wave of opposition from many people across the state. They have argued that the bill ignores the rights of parents to know where their children are.
After the Senate passed it 27-19 on March 1, the House amended and then approved the bill 57-39 on April 12, just before the House’s floor cutoff. (The Spokesman-Review published this story earlier this week on the House passing SB 5599.) The Senate yesterday voted along party lines, 29-20, to concur (or agree) with the House changes to the bill, so, unfortunately, it has been approved by the Legislature and soon will be sent to the governor.
Another controversial bill that is still alive this session is Senate Bill 5352, which deals with vehicle pursuits. As some of you know, the Democrat-controlled Legislature in 2021 severely weakened Washington’s vehicle-pursuit law by allowing law-enforcement officers to pursue a suspect only if they have probable cause to believe the driver has committed a violent or sexual crime, or escaped from jail. The 2021 law also allows pursuits for reasonable suspicion of DUI. But the law prohibits pursuits for auto thefts and burglaries.
Since the 2021 law went into effect, auto thefts in Washington have skyrocketed. According to a report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, auto thefts rose 31% in Washington from 2021 to 2022, the second-largest increase after Illinois. The total number of vehicle thefts in our state last year was 46,939, which ranks Washington third after only California and Texas, the two most populous states in the America. (Washington is the 13th most populous state.)
SB 5352 would lower the threshold for law enforcement to chase suspects from probable cause to reasonable suspicion of violent and sex crimes. Pursuits for domestic violence and vehicular assaults also would be allowed under the proposal.
I voted against this bill because it doesn’t get the job done in restoring officers’ ability to pursue suspects. For instance, under SB 5352, officers still could not chase after people suspected of auto theft or reckless driving. Because SB 5352 still restricts officers from pursuing auto-theft suspects, this crime will continue to be a huge problem here in Washington.
The Senate originally passed SB 5352 in March. After the House amended and then approved it 57-40 on April 10, the Senate voted 26-22 on Monday to concur with the House’s changes to the proposal, so it will soon go to Governor Inslee for his consideration.
A third bad bill that has passed is House Bill 1240, which would ban the sale or purchase in our state of modern sporting rifles. After the Senate had amended and then passed HB 1240 on April 8, the House refused to concur with the Senate’s changes, so the bill returned to our chamber, where Senate Democrats voted to remove the Senate’s original amendments and then adopt new amendments. Under the most recent amendment that was approved by the Senate Democrats, firearms dealers in Washington would be allowed to sell or transfer their existing stock of firearms affected by the ban – provided they were acquired before Jan. 1, 2023. However, the sales could only be to out-of-state customers, and only for 90 days after the governor signs the measure into law). The House yesterday voted 56-42 to agree with the latest version of HB 1240, so it will go to the governor.
I have voted against each version of HB 1240 because it restricts the rights of gun owners.
Bill to raise property-tax cap won’t pass this year, says Senate Democrat
In recent weeks, one of the more controversial bills to appear this session was Senate Bill 5770. It would triple the cap (to 3%, from the current 1%) on annual increases in the property taxes levied by state and local governments. The 1% cap was first implemented by the voters in 2001, through Initiative 747; after the state Supreme Court declared it invalid six years later, a Democrat-controlled Legislature quickly reinstated the 1% limit with the blessing of a Democratic governor (former Gov. Gregoire).
Following a huge outcry by Republicans and property owners, the bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, told The Center Square in an email that “SB 5770 will not be advancing this year.” (You can read The Center Square article here.) That is good news for homeowners and property owners. But as he specified “this year,” we must expect another push for this unpopular measure next year.
KVI Radio interview on transgender men housed in women’s prison
This morning I did a live phone interview with Seattle-based KVI Radio talk show host John Carlson. We discussed transgender men being housed in a state women’s corrections facility. I also provided an update on the legislative session. You can hear that interview here.
Fuel prices continue to rise, thanks to “cap-and-trade”
When the Democrat-controlled Legislature in 2021 passed the Climate Commitment Act, creating a “cap-and-trade” program that went into effect this Jan. 1, the governor claimed that “cap-and-trade” would raise fuel prices by only a few cents a gallon.
Anybody who has bought gas or diesel in the past few months will tell you the governor is very wrong. According to this story by the Washington Policy Center’s Todd Myers, since Jan. 1, our state’s “gas prices have increased between 35 and 52 cents more than neighboring state since the state launched a tax on CO2 emissions at the beginning of the year. (See chart above that was featured in the WPC story.) Despite the clear data, state politicians and agency staff refuse to acknowledge the cost of the increases and aren’t helping residents deal with the impact of the costs.”
Todd’s story points out that the difference between Washington’s gas prices and the average of Oregon and Idaho increased by about 44 cents per gallon since the beginning of this year. This significant difference will make it very tempting for some drivers living near the state border to cross into Idaho to fuel up. That would hurt Washington gas stations located near the border.
The Climate Commitment Act included language that would have exempted fuel for farming, barging, maritime and aviation from higher costs caused by the cap-and-trade program. However, farmers and others have not received this exemption. They continue to pay the extra cost created by cap-and-trade. Bills were introduced this session to implement this exemption, but they went nowhere. It is wrong for the Department of Ecology, which is in charge of the cap-and-trade program, to not fix this problem and make the expected exemption a reality. DOE and Governor Inslee need to fix this problem soon this year before wheat grown on eastern Washington farms is harvested and shipped via barge down the Snake and Columbia rivers.
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.