Three initiatives to Legislature to receive hearings next week

Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Padden’s subscribers February 22, 2024. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, click here.

Dear friends and neighbors,

After weeks of no action on any of the six initiatives sent to the Legislature early this session, Senate Democratic Leader Andy Billig of Spokane and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins announced last Friday that the Senate and House finally would schedule public hearings on three of the measures.

These three initiatives will receive public hearings next week:

  • Initiative 2111, which would ban any state or local government in Washington from imposing an income tax, will receive a public hearing in House Hearing Room A in the John L. O’Brien Building next Tuesday, February 27, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
  • Initiative 2081, which would give parents the right to review K-12 instructional materials and require parental notification of school-provided medical services, will be heard in House Hearing Room A in the John L. O’Brien Building next Wednesday, February 28, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Initiative 2113, which would restore police pursuits, will receive a hearing Wednesday, February 28, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. in Senate Hearing Room 4 of the John A. Cherberg Building.

If you want to testify on any or all of the initiatives, either live or in written form, go here for more information about the process. Or you can use the links below:

Click here to sign in about Initiative 2111 (ban on income taxes in Washington).

Click here to sign in about Initiative 2081 (parental rights concerning their children’s education).

Click here to sign in about Initiative 2113 (restore police pursuits).

A Senate committee room in the John A. Cherberg Building. 

TVW’s viewing schedule for next week has not been released, but it is likely that TVW will televise all three hearings, either live or delayed. Go to TVW’s website to watch any or all of these important hearings online.

All three initiatives reportedly will be passed on Friday, March 1, by the legislative committees to which they were referred.

Democratic leaders said the other three initiatives sent to the Legislature this session will not receive public hearings, meaning they automatically go on the statewide ballot this November for Washington voters to decide. Those are:

  • I-2117 would repeal the state’s costly climate policy, called “cap-and-trade” by some but “cap-and-tax” or “cap-and-gouge,” by opponents who note this law has caused gas prices to rise substantially. The climate policy became state law in 2021 and took full effect early last year. It is now in the Senate Environment, Energy and Technology Committee.
  • I-2109 would repeal the state capital-gains income tax that was passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature in 2021. It is now in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
  • I-2124 would allow people to opt out of the mandatory payroll tax for the state-run long-term care program. It is before the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.

It’s very disappointing that our Democrat colleagues are waiting this long to consider measures literally sponsored by “the people of Washington.”. The petitions in support of these six measures each received more than 400,000 signatures and collectively over 2.6 million signatures in 2023. It’s especially disappointing that the other three initiatives won’t receive hearings at all.

Legislators have three options with initiatives to the Legislature: 1) adopt the initiative as written, in which case it becomes law; 2) refuse to pass it, which would result in the measure automatically being placed on the statewide ballot next fall; 3) propose and approve an alternative initiative, in which case both the original initiative and the alternative would both appear together on the fall statewide ballot.

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

Senate capital budget includes 4th District projects

With the end of this year’s legislative session 14 days away, the Legislature is in the midst of a very important and anticipated time – “budget week.”

This is the week when the Senate released its 2024 state supplemental operating, capital and transportation budgets.

The Senate’s capital budget plan actually was released last Thursday and passed by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Monday. It was approved by the full Senate 49-0 today.

The Senate’s supplemental capital budget plan, Senate Bill 5949, funds the construction and maintenance of state buildings, public-school matching grants, higher-education facilities, public lands, parks and other assets.

The Senate capital budget includes funding for some key projects in the 4th Legislative District.

There is $975,000 to help with the recovery from last summer’s Oregon Road wildfire near the community of Elk, as well as the Gray fire near Medical Lake. The wildfire-recovery effort will be administered by the Spokane Conservation District.

There is also $4.8 million to replace the boiler at the Kaiser Aluminum plant in Spokane Valley. This is about meeting state emission requirements, so this funding is a big win for Kaiser and its over 1,100 workers. Kaiser is matching the capital budget funds.

Other 4th District projects in the budget include:

  • $118,000 in phase two funding for Spokane Scale House Market in Spokane Valley. The 2023-25 budget included $750,000 for Spokane Scale House Market, located at Spokane Conservation District.
  • $150,000 for the city of Spokane Valley Cross Country Course.
  • $32,000 for the West Valley Centennial Middle School baseball field’s fences and dugout.

It’s a good capital budget for the 4th District and for the state, and it’s good to see taxpayers’ money coming back to be invested in local projects.

Pollinator bill buzzes through House committee

Mount Spokane High School senior Julia Costello testified this week before a House committee in support of Senate Bill 5934, which would help bees and other pollinators. 

It was good to see that the House Local Government Committee yesterday passed Senate Bill 5934, a bipartisan measure that aims to promote the use of pollinator-friendly shrubs or bushes in landscaping.

Mount Spokane High School senior Julia Costello, who approached me this past fall about sponsoring the bill, came over to Olympia to testify in favor of the proposal during its public hearing before the House committee on Tuesday. You can watch Julia’s testimony here. Julia made a compelling case why improving pollinators’ habitat is beneficial.

Julia is a Girl Scout working to finish requirements to earn the Gold Award, which is equivalent to earning the Eagle Scout award as a Boy Scout. One of Julia’s Gold Award requirements is working with a legislator on sponsoring a bill. It has been an honor to work with Julia on this measure.

Also testifying in favor of SB 5934 earlier this week in the House was Spokane Conservation District Director Vicki Carter. You may watch her testimony here. In late January, Vicki sent this letter in support of SB 5934.

Under the bill, a local government may encourage but need not require applicants for project or commercial-building permits to include pollinator-friendly plants in any landscaped area.

Pollinators, including bees and butterflies, play a very important role in the pollination of crops, contributing to the production of fruits, vegetables and nuts. In fact, 75% of the world’s food supply depends on pollinators. Taking steps to protect and enhance pollinators is very important to the environment but also important to agriculture practices.

House Housing Committee passes two Padden bills

On Monday, the House Housing Committee passed two bills that I’ve introduced this year, including one that helps encourage home ownership in Washington by making it easier to construct smaller condominium buildings. Both proposals had previously passed the Senate this session. 

The panel approved Senate Bill 5792, which would exclude buildings with 12 or fewer units that are no more than three stories high from the definition of “multiunit residential building” if one story is utilized for above- or below-ground parking or retail space.

This bill builds on last year’s successful measure to have more housing options for Washington’s middle class. Condominiums provide an affordable path to homeownership for first-time homebuyers.   

When SB 5792 received a public hearing in the Housing Committee last week, Spokane Valley Mayor Pam Haley testified in favor of it, as did an official with the Building Industry Association of Washington. Earlier this session, Spokane City Council President Betsy Wilkerson testified in support of the bill.

The law created last year by Senate Bill 5058, which I also prime-sponsored, exempts buildings with 12 or fewer units that are no more than two stories high from the definition of “multiunit residential building.”

Washington has one of the lower homeownership rates in the nation, and both last year’s new law and this year’s bill can help our state address this problem. These smaller condominiums would still have the same building requirements that a townhouse or single-family house would have.

My other proposal approved by the Housing Committee is Senate Bill 5840, which would simplify the process of leasing property – a change requested by the Real Property section of the Washington State Bar Association to bring Washington in line with other states.

Washington is the rare state that requires commercial leases that are over a year to be acknowledged before a notary. Many legal documents do not need to be notarized. By eliminating the notary, these transactions will be a little easier.

Both SB 5792 and SB 5840 now go to the House Rules Committee, the final hurdle before bills reach the House floor for a full House vote.

Children’s Day in the Senate

Senator Padden’s granddaughter, Annie Kay Padden, sits at her grandpa’s desk on the Senate floor during Children’s Day in the Senate Monday. The senator’s son, Justin, and Justin’s wife, Whitney, brought Annie Kay to Olympia earlier this week. 

Two Senate pages sponsored this week

Senator Padden with Senate page Evangeline Morgan.

I’ve had the privilege of sponsoring two Spokane-area students who are serving as Senate pages this week.

One of them is Evangeline Morgan, a sophomore at St. Michael’s Academy. She is the daughter of Joe and Missy Morgan of Mead.  

The other page is Parker Ebel, a sophomore at Gonzaga Prep. Parker is the son of Erich and Kelly Ebel of Spokane. 

The Senate Page Program is an opportunity for Washington students to spend a week working in the Legislature. Students are responsible for transporting documents between offices, as well as delivering messages and mail. Pages spend time in the Senate chamber and attend page school to learn about parliamentary procedure and the legislative process. Students also draft their own bills and engage in a mock committee.

Thanks to Evangeline and Parker for doing such a good job as pages this week!

Senate page Parker Ebel sitting at Senator Padden’s floor desk.

Snake River dams continue to be key issue

Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River near Clarkston.

In recent years, the future of the four dams on the lower Snake River dam in southeast Washington has become a very controversial issue, with dam opponents, including Governor Inslee, pushing for their removal. Meanwhile, many people throughout eastern Washington have argued the dams should stay in place for several reasons, including the abundant clean hydropower they provide, as well as transportation for wheat barges and other vessels, recreation, irrigation and flood control.

All of my fellow Republicans in the Senate and I support the four Snake River dams and want them to remain. We recently sent this letter to U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers in support of the dams.  

This issue is not only important in Olympia but also in communities throughout our side of the Cascades. Earlier this week, the Spokane Valley City Council heard a presentation on preserving the lower Snake River dams. The presentation was by Chelsea Martin of Spokane Valley’s Modern Electric Water Company and Dan Wilson, past president of Local 338 of the Steelworkers Union. You may watch a video of their presentation 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.