Thanks to everyone who took part in telephone town hall!

Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Padden’s subscribers March 23, 2023. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, click here.

I held a telephone town hall that this past Monday night, when it was certain I would not be interrupting those who are once again following our local Gonzaga University Bulldogs in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (myself included!). Thanks to the 80 or so people who took an hour out of their evening to take part in the town hall, and a special thanks to those who asked me live questions.

The telephone town hall was similar to a call-in radio program, and it’s a convenient way to reach constituents during the week while I’m still having to be over at the Capitol. I provided an update on the 2023 legislative session, including the status of my bills that are still alive, before taking live questions from participants. During the event, listeners were asked by the call’s moderator to use their phones to respond to three questions relating to the 2023 legislative session.

The first question was “Would you support legislation that allows law enforcement to pursue criminals again under the reasonable suspicion standard?” All 100% who responded voted “yes.”

The second question was “Should the Legislature enact legislation to ban the use of natural gas in Washington state?” This time, 100% of respondents voted “no.”

The third and final question was “Should the Legislature use the state’s budget surplus for property tax relief?” The response here was not unanimous but it was decisive, with 81.8% saying “yes” while 9.1% said “no” another 9.1% saying they were unsure.

Again, thanks to everyone who listened to the telephone town hall and to those who took part in the survey. Your participation is appreciated!

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

Legislature passes bill raising penalty for custodial sexual misconduct

I’m very pleased to see a bipartisan bill I sponsored this year that aims to impose longer sentences on sexually abusive jail and prison guards is headed to the governor after being unanimously passed yesterday by the House of Representatives. 

Senate Bill 5033 would reclassify the crime of first-degree custodial sexual misconduct (in which the corrections officer has sexual intercourse with the victim) from a Class C felony to a Class B felony, allowing a prison term of 10 years instead of the current five-year maximum. The bill also would reclassify second-degree custodial sexual misconduct (in which the corrections officer has sexual contact with the victim) from a gross misdemeanor to a Class C felony, which would bring a maximum sentence of five years.

Officers who work in jails and state correctional facilities are part of the law-enforcement community just as much as the officers who patrol our communities and investigate crimes. Like all the other people we entrust to administer justice, corrections officers must be held to a high standard, especially considering the unique level of authority they have over people in custody.”

This bill was inspired by a KING-TV investigation about a Clallam County jail guard, John Gray, who served just over a year in prison after sexually assaulting four women.

You can view KING-TV’s story yesterday about the Legislature passing SB 5033 by clicking here.

When the bill was being considered by the Senate Law and Justice Committee early this session, it was named “Kimberly Bender’s law,” in honor of the 23-year-old Quileute woman who died by suicide in her Forks jail cell in 2019 after reporting to city officials that Gray sexually harassed her. Kimberly’s mother, Dawn Reid, asked me to name the bill after her daughter.

Gray was convicted in 2021 of two felony and two misdemeanor counts of custodial sexual misconduct and served 13 months of his 20-month sentence.

SB 5033 was passed by the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 27.

Senate’s capital budget includes several 4th District projects

The Legislative Building stands above blooming cherry trees early last spring.

The state capital budget funds the construction and maintenance of state buildings, public-school matching grants, higher-education facilities, public lands, parks, and other assets. The Senate version of the state capital budget for 2023-25 was released early this week. Just about everything I requested is included in this proposal, so I’m pleased with it.

The budget proposal helps fund several local athletic and recreational projects in our district, as well as performing arts projects and other local projects. It’s a good capital budget for the 4th District and for the state, and it’s good to see taxpayers’ money being invested in local projects.

Specifically, the Senate’s proposed capital budget would fund these 4th District projects:

  • $1.176 million for Spokane Valley Performing Arts Center construction, with another $1.849 million provided for the Spokane Valley Summer Theatre, which will be part of the performing arts center.
  • $1.03 million for the HUB sports fields in Liberty Lake.
  • $750,000 for Spokane Scale House Market in Spokane Valley.
  • $500,000 in Washington Wildlife Recreation Program funding for phase 2 work at Greenacres Park in Spokane Valley.
  • $350,000 for a synthetic turf field in Liberty Lake.
  • $207,000 for Veterans Memorial Balfour Park in Spokane Valley, with this funding having been repurposed from the 2022 state capital budget.
  • $130,000 for natural areas facilities preservation and access.
  • $100,000 for Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park in Mead.
  • $100,000 for Spokane Valley Heritage Museum in the old Opportunity Township Building.
  • $100,000 from the Building Communities Fund Grant Program for expansion of the public food business incubator.
  • $40,000 to fund appraisals of two pieces of property, one in Liberty Lake that is being considered as the possible new location for the Army National Guard unit, and the other at Geiger Field, where the unit currently is located.

In addition, Senate capital-budget writers provided funding for several baseball-stadium projects across Washington, including $543,000 in local and community project funding for renovations to Spokane County Avista Stadium in Spokane Valley.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee approved the capital budget yesterday after holding a public hearing on it Monday. The full Senate is expected to vote on it tomorrow.

The House of Representatives is expected to release its proposed capital budget next week.

Update on Padden bills as new deadline for action approaches

The next key deadline for this year’s legislative session is next Wednesday, March 29. It’s the last day for House policy committees to approve Senate bills, and for Senate policy committees to pass House bills, except for proposals considered necessary to implement the budget.

With next week’s deadline approaching, I’m glad that some of my other bills besides SB 5033 are also alive and advancing through the Legislature:

  • SB 5032 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. The proposal would increase the penalty from a gross misdemeanor to a felony offense for any person who has three or more prior DUI offenses within that “lookback” period. The bill received a public hearing Tuesday in the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee. You can watch my testimony on the bill here.
  • 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 proposal received a public hearing yesterday in the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee. My testimony can be viewed here. Spokane Valley Mayor Pam Haley and Spokane City Councilor Betsy Wilkerson also testified in favor of SB 5058. You can watch their testimony here. The committee is scheduled to vote on SB 5058 tomorrow.
  • SB 5096, which would aid businesses looking to adopt an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) corporate structure, was passed last Friday by the House Innovation, Community and Economic Development, and Veterans Committee. It is now in the House Appropriations Committee, which has an April 4 deadline to approve Senate bills sent there.
  • SB 5218, which would provide tax relief to people who require specialized, medically prescribed equipment such as custom wheelchairs, was passed last week by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It is now in the Senate Rules Committee, which acts as a final hurdle before bills reach the Senate floor. SB 5218 is considered necessary to implement the budget, so it did not to be approved by the Senate earlier this session.

Home Builders visit the Capitol

On Tuesday I enjoyed meeting with officials with the Spokane Home Builders Association, including Jacob Clark (second from right), who was my legislative assistant until he left late last year to work for the Home Builders Association. Others in the photo (from left to right) include Tyrell Monette, Sharla Jones, Katie Getman (who was holding her daughter, Anastasia) and Andrew Northrop. 

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.