No time to wait: Washington’s economy must reopen

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

Report from Olympia |  February 1, 2021

Mike Padden

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It’s hard to believe we’re already into February, and that three weeks of the 2021 legislative session are now behind us. It’s been an abnormal start, with hearings and floor action taking place almost exclusively through remote testimony and virtual voting. Despite that, bills continue to move through the legislative process quickly.

Last week several important measures received hearings in Senate committees, and a few bills have already been approved by the full Senate and sent over to the House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, Senate Bill 5114 – our measure to safely and quickly reopen all of Washington – was not among those bills. This was not for lack of trying. In addition to negotiating with the majority caucus in the Senate, Republicans also tried to force the bill to the floor for a vote by using procedural maneuvers in both the State Government Committee and on the Senate floor. Unfortunately, only two Democrats voted with Republicans, allowing the majority party to “kill” both efforts.

This will not deter us, and I ask that you don’t let it deter you either. We will continue to push for good policies that will help all Washingtonians. And even if they try to silence you, speaking up frequently and in large numbers means that they can’t simply ignore you. Together, an impact will be made.

Thank you for your interest in what’s going on in the Legislature. If there is anything our team can do for you, please let me know.

It remains my honor to serve as your voice in our state Senate.

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden

Video Update:

Senate debates condominium-construction bill

Floor Debate

Click image above to watch debate on the condo-construction bill.

Audio Update:

Senate Republicans: We need to take action to reopen our economy now!

Elephant in the Dome Podcast with Tracy Ellis | Jan. 28, 2021


There’s no time to wait: Washington’s economy must reopen. That was the impetus behind a Senate Republican push in the Legislature last week. All members of the Senate Republican Caucus supported a motion that would have brought Senate Bill 5114 to the Senate floor, but the motion was defeated by majority Democrats 27-22.

The bill would move all regions of the state safely into Phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s reopening plan. There were more than 1,600 people who signed in for the hearing on the measure, with 93 percent in support of its passage.

Majority Democrats refused to listen to the people. They also shot down an effort to reopen the state’s restaurants and other small businesses in the State Government committee, deciding to adjourn the meeting rather than take a vote on advancing the bill.

Click here to listen to the audio recap of this week’s efforts.

Legislative Update:

Bill to remove barriers to condominium construction passes Senate

2-story condo

This past Wednesday, the Senate passed my measure to help increase the supply of affordable housing by removing barriers to condominium construction.

I am pleased to see such broad bipartisan support for this common-sense measure. At a time when many areas of the state are desperate for affordable housing – especially single-family units – this bill will allow for more affordable construction and greater access to financing of smaller condo projects.

This is a great thing for both homebuilders and those looking for more affordable homeownership.

Under Senate Bill 5024, which cleared the chamber by a vote of 37-12, condominiums with 10 or fewer units and with no more than two stories would be exempt from the costly requirement to submit building-enclosure design documents and obtain periodic inspections throughout the course of construction.

Click here to read more.

In the News:

Spokane still can’t move to Phase 2

By Arielle Dreher and Laurel Demkovich, Spokesman-Review | Jan 20, 2021


…[Governor Jay] Inslee announced a new reopening plan earlier this month. Since then, the entire state has remained in Phase 1, which keeps the state relatively closed. Phase 2 allows restaurants to open indoor dining and indoor fitness centers to open at 25% capacity.

The most recent metrics in Spokane’s East region show it is meeting the hospital admissions rate, as well as the ICU occupancy rate. However, the case rate, as well as the percent positivity rate in the region, were increasing as of Friday.

… Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, said he appreciated that the new metrics might make it easier for areas to open up but said he was disappointed Spokane wouldn’t be one of them yet. Padden and other state Republicans have been trying to pass a bill in the Legislature that would automatically move the state to Phase 2. It failed a vote in the Senate on Wednesday.

Republicans have been critical of Inslee’s emergency orders, which they claim take away power from the Legislature.

“We all want safety, but I think we’ve had too much command and control,” Padden told the Spokesman-Review. “We should be listening to local officials.”

Click here to read the full story.

Legislative Update:

Bill action to pick up pace this week

Several of the bills I have introduced will receive some level of action this week. Here is the latest:

  • Senate Bill 5332 would clarify the equipment requirements for wheeled all-terrain vehicles. This measure is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee at 4 p.m. today (Feb 1).
  • Senate Bill 5094 would require the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) and other law-enforcement groups to develop a written model policy on the use of vascular neck restraints. The bill also contains training requirements. A hearing is scheduled in the Law and Justice Committee at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow (Feb. 2).
  • Senate Bill 5261 deals with collecting information regarding police use of deadly force, personnel complaints, pursuit incidences, and patrol-car crashes. It is also scheduled for a hearing in Law and Justice, also at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow.
  • Senate Bill 5009, also known as the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act, would protect freedom of speech by permitting a special motion in court for expedited relief against legal claims over public expression (“strategic lawsuits against public participation, known also as SLAPPs). The bill is slated for a vote in the Senate Law and Justice Committee at 10:30 a.m. Thursday (Feb. 4).
  • Senate Bill 5027 would make closed captioning on televisions available in places of public accommodation, to help those with hearing disabilities gain access to vital news and emergency information. The bill was pulled from the Rules Committee this past Friday and could come up for a full Senate vote this week.

Visit the legislative website to see my full list of sponsored legislation. You may also follow every hearing and floor action live on

In the News:

Washington State Corrections Secretary Steve Sinclair Announces Retirement

By Jim Brunner, The Seattle Times | Jan. 27, 2021

Washington Department of Corrections Secretary Steve Sinclair will retire in May, capping a three-decade career that began as a correctional officer and ended with him running the state prison system for the past four years.

His decision comes as DOC faces burgeoning COVID-19 infections at multiple prisons, with widespread quarantines in effect. … Under Sinclair's watch, DOC has faced criticism from advocates and families of inmates for shoddy medical care at state prisons, including lapses in cancer treatment, leading to deaths, lawsuits and legal settlements.

… State Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Law & Justice Committee, credited Sinclair with "a good faith effort to deal with an agency that is a very difficult agency to run."

But, he noted, "they continue to have major issues," including the COVID-19 outbreak at multiple prisons.

Padden also pointed to the former top director at Monroe Correctional Complex, who was fired in 2019 after allegations of incompetent medical care leading to several injuries and deaths. "She should never have been hired," he said. (DOC has acknowledged the doctor, Julia Barnett, lacked some stated qualifications for the position. Her medical license was suspended in November.)

Click here to read the full story.

Events & Happenings

Reagan Day

Each year the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project asks governors from all 50 states to issue a proclamation declaring Feb. 6 “Ronald Reagan Day” in their respective states. Republican and Democrat governors often join in recognizing the accomplishments of one of the most consequential presidents of my lifetime.

“Ronald Reagan led America forward to defeat the threats to our prosperity of high taxes, inflation, and recession at home and a surging Soviet Empire abroad. He left America stronger, freer, and safer than the day he became President,” said Grover Norquist, founder and chairman of the project.

I plan to take a few moments during floor action this week to honor and recognize the legacy of President Reagan, and will share those comments with you in a future update. In the meanwhile, click here to listen to my interview from Ronald Reagan Day in 2018.

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.