Because Freedom Matters!

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

Report from Olympia |  February 9, 2021


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It was another busy week in the Legislature. There was work on a number of important issues, including measures related to homelessness and shelters, sports wagering, and several bills in the Law and Justice Committee dealing with law-enforcement use of force. You can read more about some of these issues and more below.

One of the highlights of the week was the formation of the Senate Freedom Caucus. Three other Republican senators – Doug Ericksen of Ferndale, Phil Fortunato of Auburn, and Jim McCune of Graham – and I officially launched the new caucus at a press conference on Wednesday.

A caucus is defined as a “conference of members of a legislative body,” usually united around a single political affiliation, ideological belief or shared demographic. For example, Senate Democrats have a “people of color” caucus.

Our caucus is focused squarely on one thing: freedom. We are united around the principles of life, liberty and prosperity.

Many of those at our press conference asked why there is a need for a Freedom Caucus.

While the members of the Freedom Caucus are committed conservatives and members of the Senate Republican Caucus, the need for a coalition focused on protecting our liberties have never been needed more. The leadership of the SRC has to focus on a large slate of policies, issues and geography among its current 21 members. And while one Democrat, Tim Sheldon from Mason County, caucuses with Republicans, many Democrats are unwilling to break with their party.

The Freedom Caucus is focused on pushing back against those destructive policies that limit individual freedom, using every tool at our disposal as elected officials to highlight them from a lens of individual liberty. And as a non-partisan caucus, we are open to working with Democrats, Independents and others who share our goal of protecting Washingtonians’ constitutional rights.

Above all else, we have formed this caucus to be a voice for you, for your family, for your small business, for our community and for all of the people of our state. Thank you for standing up for freedom with us. Your interest and continued participation in your government is crucial to the future of our state. Why? Because freedom matters!

Thank you for giving me the privilege to serve as your voice in our state Senate.

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden

Video Updates:

Freedom Caucus announced in news conference


Click on the image above to watch the news conference announcing the Senate Freedom Caucus.

KEPR-TV: 'Freedom Caucus' formed by Republican State Senators

video 2

Click on the image above to watch KEPR-TV coverage.

School Opening Update:

CDC: In-Person Schools Learning Have Seen ‘Scant Transmission’ Of COVID-19

By Emily Zanotti, Daily Wire | January 26, 2021


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a paper published on Tuesday, concluded that schools operating in-person learning with appropriate anti-viral precautions have seen only “scant transmission” of the virus, according to a number of studies conducted in districts across the country.

The news could pave the way for schools to re-open to in-person learning if certain guidelines are followed, though the CDC says that riskier activities associated with in-school education, like organized, indoor athletic events, may have to wait a bit longer.

… “The preponderance of available evidence from the fall school semester has been reassuring,” the CDC researchers said in their article for the Journal of the American Medical Association. “There has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”

Click here to read more.

Legislative Update:

Hearing held on bill to limit law-enforcement use of neck restraints in Law & Justice Committee

Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl

Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl

Last week, the Senate Law and Justice Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 5094, which 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 (VNRs) by 2022. The bill also contains training requirements.

There is a BIG distinction between vascular neck restraints and chokeholds, which are always considered deadly force. VNRs are inherently safer, because when done properly, these holds do not involve restricting airway passages.

While some testified that limitations and policies were not enough, and that the practice should be banned altogether, many subject matter experts I have spoken with tell me that a ban on neck restraints would only leave police officers with fewer, more deadlier options.

Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl assured the committee that, when applied properly, these type of restraint holds are safe, and that in the last 24 years, there have been no deaths and few injuries from such holds reported in Spokane. Major Eric Olsen with the Spokane Police Department agreed, stating that these restraint holds are safer than using a stun gun on combative people.

The point is: Every time you remove a tool From the toolbox available to law-enforcement officers, what's left? Taking away the use of vascular neck restraints means moves you to a stun gun, a baton, or worse yet, deadly force.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs supported the bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Holy from Cheney, who had been a Spokane police officer for more than 20 years.

Legislative Update:

Protecting our most vulnerable

Bill would prohibit abortions targeting those with Down syndrome


One of the bills that I am most proud to have introduced this session is Senate Bill 5416, a measure that would prohibit physicians from intentionally performing an abortion on a pregnant woman because the unborn child is believed to have Down syndrome. Doing so would result in a physician having their medical license revoked and being subject to civil litigation.

This bill is very similar to part of a Tennessee law banning abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome or a fetus' race or sex, which was upheld as constitutional by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in November. Similar bills are currently moving through the legislative process in Arizona and South Dakota.

As a world, we face what is almost a eugenics situation where Down syndrome children are under attack. Iceland allows only two children with Down syndrome to be born each year. In the United States, about 67% of children with Down syndrome are eliminated through abortion.

As someone who has volunteered with Special Olympics, I can attest to the fact that these kids have such a phenomenal joy, excitement and wonder in life. We want to protect these precious children.

In the News:

Inslee tries to defend regional reopening plan

By Joseph Claypoole, Washington State Journal | Feb. 5, 2021

Gov. Jay Inslee defended his plan to phase in the opening of businesses by region, saying he knows it goes too slow for some people.

… However, many Republicans remain unsatisfied with Inslee’s approach. Several hours before Inslee made his comments Feb. 4, four Senate Republicans announced they were forming a Freedom Caucus to press for fewer restrictions.

“Governor Inslee has a heavy-handed approach and I believe a tremendous infringement on people's personal rights and liberty,” said Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn. He was joined by senators Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale; Jim McCune, R-Graham; and Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley.

The governor’s COVID-19 restrictions on businesses are “taking the life savings of people that are just trying to run a family business, a family store,” Fortunato said. 

Click here to read the full article.

It’s beyond time to take this ‘security’ fence down


How long are we supposed to put up with this? We were told the fencing at the Capitol was to be a temporary security measure in response to reports of potential violence related to the presidential inauguration. It’s now the second full week of February, no violence (or even peaceful protests) have materialized, and yet the fence still surrounds most of the legislative buildings. Everyday this fence remains up it, it becomes more and more a symbol of tyranny and the separation of the people from their government.

After many discussions with the now-members of the Freedom Caucus, last week the Senate Republican Leader John Braun sent a letter to Governor Inslee calling on him to remove the fence.

In his letter, Sen. Braun echoes our call for Mr. Inslee to “tear this wall down,” writing:

On the Capitol campus, the space between the Legislative Building and the Temple of Justice has been a traditional public forum. People have gathered there for almost 100 years to engage in constitutionally protected free speech.

… During this session, we are making decisions impacting the lives of every Washingtonian. To the extent possible, we are still doing so on the inside of the Legislative Building. If you won’t let the people inside the building to serve as witnesses to our actions, we at least should be able to hear their voices from their traditional public forum on the steps of the building. Restricting them to rain-soaked lawns far from the ears of legislators is not an acceptable alternative.

Governor, please take down the fences which are needlessly keeping the people away from the Legislative Building – the People’s House – and their legislators.

Click here to read the full letter.

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.