Governor Inslee, Tear down this wall!

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106 Newhouse Building ● P.O. Box 40404 ● Olympia WA 98504-0404

Report from Olympia |  January 18, 2021

The people's access to democracy


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Access to democracy is a major topic at the start of this year’s legislative session. COVID-related restrictions and extreme security measures are keeping the public away from the Capitol building and legislators.

During these unprecedented times it is more important than ever that you stay informed and involved. One way to stay involved is to testify on legislation that is important to you, your family and your neighbors.

A large number of citizens took advantage of this opportunity during the first week of the 2021 session. Our bill to increase affordable housing and reduce barriers to condominium construction was the subject of a hearing in the Law and Justice Committee, and saw many citizens testify about how the bill would address needless regulations and free up capital for investing in condo construction.

Citizens also flocked via Zoom to testify against the governor’s proposal to create a new income tax on capital gains.

This week there will be another opportunity for the public to weigh in when a bipartisan bill to reopen our economy and save our restaurants and gyms receives a committee hearing.

In this edition of Report from Olympia, you may read more about these issues, as well as see some of the early responses to our constituent survey.

Thanks again for the opportunity to serve as your voice in our state Senate.

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden

Legislative Update:

Time to safely re-open Washington!


In the more than 300 days Washingtonians have lived under Gov. Inslee’s emergency proclamations, I have heard from many of you that Washington must reopen. A bill coming up for a hearing this week will do just that.

Senate Bill 5114 would allow for all businesses affected by the governor’s current shutdowns to reopen safely and immediately under the standards of Phase 2. After our strong push on the floor last week to bring up the issue, Sen. Hunt, D-Olympia, agreed to hold a hearing on the bill this Wednesday (Jan. 20) at 8 a.m.

Now is your chance to make sure your voice is heard on this important issue. If you would like to share your views, you may sign up to testify so that you can tell your story directly to legislators. You can testify remotely from your computer. This link will take you to the testimony sign up page for SB 5114. You can sign up right now – the window closes one hour before the start of the hearing.

Let your voice be heard!


Access to democracy limited in Olympia

Padden on Dori

Click here to listen to Sen. Padden on the Dori Monson Show.

In the News:

Legislature to meet remotely, but not everyone likes the idea

By Austin Jenkins, KNKX | Jan 11, 2021

Public radio

The Washington Legislature approved rules to allow lawmakers to meet remotely because of the pandemic. The in-person votes Monday in Olympia happened under tight security with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.

Some Minority Republicans, including state Sen. Mike Padden and Sen. Sharon Brown, objected to the rules changes and the fact the Capitol is closed to the public. They wanted to allow the public inside the Capitol with masks and social distancing.

…Padden called for Gov. Jay Inslee to remove emergency fencing that now surrounds the Capitol. In doing so, Padden invoked former President Ronald Reagan: “And I remember on June 12, 1987, he said, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.' And I say today, Governor Inslee, tear down this wall.” Click here to read the full story.

Committee Update:

Committee advances bill to increase affordable housing and reduce barriers to condo construction

Eddie Chang

Eddie Chang, a realtor, explained to the Law & Justice Committee the problem faced by many in the condo construction industry, and its impact on those looking for entry-level housing.

Last week, the Senate Law and Justice Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 5024, our measure to help increase the supply of affordable housing by removing barriers to condominium construction.

At a time when many Washingtonians are desperate for affordable housing, there are unnecessary regulations in place that make it more costly to build smaller condominiums. The cost of a condominium unit can be as much as $200,000 more than the cost of an identical unit that happens to be a townhome, due to all of the extra inspection costs tied to condominiums. And there has not been a big difference in the problems seen between condominiums and townhouses. SB 5024 would allow for more construction financing of condo projects, which is a great thing for both homebuilders and those looking for more affordable homeownership.

Jan Himebaugh

Jan Himebaugh with the Building Industry Association of Washington, which represents more than 8,000 member companies involved with various aspects of the residential construction industry, testified that “by streamlining the inspection process for these types of condo projects, we will enable more access to housing for Washington’s middle class.”

Several members of the public appeared via video to testify on the bill and voice their support. The bill also received the support of the cities of Burien, Covington, Everett, Pasco, Redmond, Renton, SeaTac, Spokane, and Spokane Valley.

The bill was advanced by the committee two days later, and is now awaiting action by the Rules Committee, the final stop before going to the Senate floor for a final vote by the full chamber.

In the News:

State Senate passes resolution extending COVID-19 emergency orders

By Laurel Demkovich, Spokesman-Review | Jan 14, 2021

Padden constitution

State Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, reads from a copy of the state constitution as he objects to the Senate emergency rules amendment Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

The Washington State Senate voted Wednesday to extend Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency orders until the COVID-19 state of emergency is over, despite stiff Republican opposition.

In the Legislature’s first virtual floor debate, Republicans introduced two amendments to the emergency order resolution: one that would extend the proclamations until Jan. 27 and another that would require the entire state to move to Phase 2 in the reopening plan before any emergency proclamations could be extended.

Through the past interim, leaders in all four caucuses have extended Inslee’s proclamations, but Republicans have long criticized Inslee for “overstepping” and implementing emergency orders that have shut down businesses and indoor dining without consulting the Legislature.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, supported both amendments, criticizing Inslee for continuing to use executive powers for these proclamations instead of consulting with the Legislature in a special session.

“This is why you see such pent-up anxiety and concern from people throughout the state and members on this side of the aisle,” Padden said.

Click here to read the full story.

Classroom Update:

Central Valley plans to return grades 7-12 to classroom by Feb. 1

By Jim Allen, Spokesman-Review | Jan 12, 2021

University HS

University High School main building is seen Jan. 30, 2020 in Spokane Valley. Students will be returning to class beginning Feb. 1, according to new guidelines from the Central Valley School District. (JESSE TINSLEY)

As Central Valley, Spokane Public Schools and other districts move forward with plans for phasing in secondary students, they’re doing so with support from the Spokane Regional Health District and its health officer.

According to health officer Dr. Francisco Velazquez, much has changed since September, when the area’s two largest districts, Spokane and Central Valley, began the year with distance learning only.

“We’re watching the data closely and have specific expectations of the school districts within our guidance,” Velazquez said.

Click here to read the full story.


Thank you to those of you who took a moment to answer my short survey last week. Already, we are seeing some clear positions and priorities among the people of the 4th Legislative District. Here are some of the early results.

Results 1Results 2

Among the questions we asked was which of several issues were your top priority. The clear results were:

  1. Re-opening up Washington;
  2. Cutting taxes/Preventing tax increases; and,
  3. Supporting small business.

If you would like to weigh in, it’s not too late.

Click here to complete the survey now!

Contact us!

If you have a question or concern about state government, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We are here to serve you!

Phone: (360) 786-7606

Street address: 106 Irv Newhouse Building, Capitol Campus, Olympia, WA 98504

Postal address: PO Box 40404, Olympia, WA 98504

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, which will be open starting Jan. 6, at (360) 786-7606.

To request public records from Sen. Padden, please contact Randi Stratton who is the designated public records officer for the Secretary of the Senate and Senate members.