Our state needs to address alarming rise in drug-overdose deaths

Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Padden’s subscribers Nov. 9, 2022. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, click here.

Washington’s drug-overdose deaths have risen at three times the rate of the country as a whole  

Dear friends and neighbors,

Drug overdoses continue to rise at an alarming in our state. These statistics prove it:

  • In 2021, drug-overdose deaths, according to the state Department of Health, were the leading cause of death in our state for people under age 50.
  • The federal Centers for Disease Control report that in the last 12 months for which they have national data (through May 2022), Washington’s drug-overdose deaths were rising at three times the rate of the country as a whole.

The 2022 stats won’t be available for two or more months. Numbers available so far indicate that this year likely will see even higher drug-overdose figures than in 2021.

If the ages of these predicted 3,000 victims are comparable to last year, drug-overdose deaths will be the leading cause of death of Washington residents under age 60 in 2022, more than cancer, heart disease, COVID-19, traffic accidents, or any other cause. This is very alarming.

The rise in overdose deaths is due in part to the de facto decriminalization of hard drugs such as fentanyl, meth and heroin by the majority party in the last session of the Legislature. In the case of fentanyl, it is produced in China, shipped to Mexican cartels and then brought across our borders and distributed in our country.

In is very important this be addressed next session along with overhauling the many soft-on-crime policies that have been passed recently, which I strongly opposed.

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden


Discussion on ESOPs at upcoming Spokane Valley Chamber annual meeting

During its annual meeting on Thursday, November 17, the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce will hold an event on employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) to promote employee ownership of businesses. The ESOP panel will explore the benefits of ESOPs and highlight proposed legislation that would aid businesses looking to adopt an ESOP corporate structure.

It will include a panel talk on how businesses can implement this policy. Joining me for that will be Gellert Dornay, a national expert on ESOPs who has helped many businesses convert to an employee-owned model; John Bole, the CEO of Yoke’s Fresh Market, an employee-owned chain based in Spokane Valley; and an official from Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, based in Pullman.


Spokane Conservation District tour

Last month I enjoyed a tour of the Spokane Conservation District, one of the top conservation districts in the nation. It includes 50 acres of land and a nature trail in the 4th Legislative District. This photo shows me with two members of the district’s Board of Supervisors, Vice Chair Tom Miller (left) and Chair Randy James (right). Thanks also need to go out to Spokane Conservation District Executive Director Vicki Carter.

Tour of local homeless camps

I recently went on a a helicopter tour to see “Camp Hope” near I-90 and another homeless camp in Spokane Valley. The photo above shows me leaving the helicopter with Spokane Valley Police Chief Dave Ellis. Thanks to Chief Ellis and Spokane Valley City Manager John Hohman for arranging the helicopter tour.  


During the 2020 legislative session, I sponsored several Senate pages, including Max Molgard III, here with me at my desk on the Senate floor. After a two-year suspension, the Senate Page Program will employ pages for the 2023 legislative session.

Senate page applications now open

After a two-year suspension due to COVID-19, the Senate Page Program once again will employ pages for the 2023 legislative session, which begins January 9 and ends April 23.

If you know of any teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16 who would be interested in being a Senate page, please let them know that applications are now being taken. They can apply online by going to https://app.leg.wa.gov/pageapplication.

Pages are sponsored by legislators and serve for one week during the legislative session. Our office takes  pride in sponsoring several pages each session. Pages spend their week learning about the legislative process while distributing materials throughout the Capitol Campus, assisting offices, delivering messages, working on the Senate Floor, and presenting the colors at the opening of the day’s legislative session. Pages also spend time each day in Page School learning aspects about state government.

Honoring former state Senator Ericksen

Late last year, the Senate lost a longtime, respected colleague when 42nd Legislative District Senator Doug Ericksen died. His passing left a huge void in our legislative chamber.

Doug represented Whatcom County, and argued passionately for blue-collar jobs, tax relief, and free-market principles. I served with Doug for more than a decade. Doug was a principled conservative who was not afraid to debate and disagree with our Democratic colleagues during floor sessions. Doug was known for his intellectual prowess and strong communication skills in discussing issues before the Legislature.

A few weeks ago, the Washington Policy Center honored former Senator Ericksen during its annual dinners in Spokane and Bellevue by posthumously presenting Doug with its Champion of Freedom Award for 2022. Spokane County Treasurer Mike Baumgartner, who is a former 6th District state senator, presented the award to Doug Ericksen’s wife, Tasha Ericksen. During the annual dinner, the WPC showed a touching video about Doug that really captures the essence of him. You can view it here.

How to keep track of 2022 election results

Although voting ended yesterday for the 2022 General Election, results for some races might not be decided until later today or later this week. To find the latest election results, use these links for election results compiled by the Spokane County Auditor’s Office or election results tabulated by the Office of Secretary of State.

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

District Office: 5105 E 3rd Ave, Ste 102 Spokane Valley, WA 99212

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, which will be open starting Jan. 6, 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.