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

Report from Olympia |  April 29, 2021

Sine Die

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Conservatives tend to be positive people, trying to see the best in every situation, but the most positive thing that can be said about the 2021 regular legislative session is that it is finally over. Beyond that, the news is not good.

Perhaps the most comprehensive summary of the session comes from liberal Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat, who penned a piece titled, “It’s Seattle’s state now in politics, and everybody else is living in it.

In it, he writes: “Seattle has long been the big political power in the state, but the more moderate Legislature operated for decades as its check and balance. Many lefty ideas hatched in Seattle went down to the statehouse, only to die or get blenderized beyond all recognition. Not this time. Ideologically, it really is Seattle’s state right now. Everybody else is, for the moment, living in it.”

He points out that liberal, one-party rule in Olympia:

  • Used the COVID-19 crisis to pass an “enormous budget that is 54% larger — that’s $20 billion larger — than the state operating budget of just six years ago” (That’s not counting the nearly $14 billion more in federal relief money);
  • Passed an unconstitutional income tax on capital gains;
  • Cracked down on cops, while easing up on drug users and giving ex-felons the right to vote before completing their victim restitution and court obligations;
  • Banned open carry of guns at protests;
  • Passed a host of liberal cultural legislation tied to critical race theory; and
  • Hiked gas, heating and food prices on the poor and middle class though adoption of a cap-and-tax scheme and high cost fuel standard.

I would add to this list that the majority Democrats failed to strengthen our felony-DUI law, by not acting on my bill to increase the “lookback” period to 15 years, and failed to reform the governor’s emergency powers, which has left the state under one-man rule for over a year now with no end in sight.

All this was done while keeping the public physically locked out of the process – and I mean that literally. While remote testimony is beneficial and convenient, it does not fully replace the impact of citizens coming before legislators in person.

While this session clearly reflected the values of Seattle, we know it did not represent the entire state. It would be easy to leave this year demoralized, but it is important to hold your chin up, dust yourself off and prepare to fight hard again next session. We are not all Seattle, and other Washingtonians deserve to be heard too!

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden

Our own Felicia Hebner sings National Anthem for the Senate on last day of session

New audit claims Employment Security Department could have lost as much as $1.1 billion in taxpayer money due to fraud and misappropriations

Felicia Hebner

Click on the image above to watch Felicia’s beautiful performance.

This session, we were blessed to have our former intern Felicia Hebner return to our team as our session aide. On the final day of the session, we extended that blessing to the rest of the state, when the Senate’s floor action began with Felicia singing the National Anthem. Among her many gifts, Felicia is an amazing singer. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

From the District:

Students of Chesterton Academy lead the Senate in Pledge of Allegiance

Chesterton Academy

Click the image above to watch students from Chesterton Academy recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame is a new, Catholic, classical high school, which opened in Spokane in fall 2020. Its goal is to “raise up a new generation of joyful leaders and saints.” It was my honor to invite these joyful leaders to lead the Senate in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance April 20.

Not all bad news:

Scoring some wins in a tough session

Sen. Mike Padden

Despite being heavily outnumbered, we were able to score a few major wins in what was otherwise a very difficult session.

For one, we were able to push the governor (at least temporarily) towards reopening businesses. Our relentless focus early in the session absolutely prompted the governor to allow counties to reopen faster than he otherwise would have, despite language from the majority diminishing the concerns about the devastating effects of continued shutdowns.

Likewise, our efforts to get kids safely back into school, in accordance with supporting science, resulted in an about-face: the governor stopped denying he had the power to get schools open, and began exercising this power, despite resistance from the teachers’ union, and some legislators.

While the new state budget is a colossal beast that spends way too much and raises taxes, conservatives were first to offer an alternative budget that would invest in forest health, people with developmental disabilities, behavioral health, and unemployment-insurance relief (SB 5451) without raising taxes. While our no-net-tax-increase approach was rejected, many of our priorities were adopted into the budget, resulting in $500 million in unemployment insurance relief for small businesses. The alternative budget also reduced state property taxes.

The majority came to Olympia with a host of gun-control measures that targeted law abiding gunowners. Most of these anti-Second Amendment bills never even made it out of committee, including their priority bill to ban high-capacity magazines.

We also helped defeat an attempt to remove some safeguards to the state-assisted suicide law, which would have made it easier for people to take their own lives. During a pandemic, when isolation and anxiety have led to a devastating increase in the mental-and behavioral-health crises people are already experiencing, we should be addressing those mental-health needs, not making it easier for people to take their own lives. The safeguards that would have been removed would have also made it easier for these dangerous life-ending drugs to end up in the wrong hands.

Bipartisan capital budget invests in 4th District

Spokane Fair

In the waning days of the session, a bipartisan capital budget for 2021-23 was approved by a vote of 49-0 in the Senate and 98-0 in the House. It includes a historic $413 million investment in broadband internet access around our state and nearly $1 billion for K-12 and early education, with significant funding for small schools and early learning centers.

Fourth District taxpayers send a lot of their money to Olympia. This capital budget brings some of that money back home to help fund important projects in our community, which also creates and preserves jobs.

Teaming with Representative Chase and Representative McCaslin, we secured almost $17 million for projects in the 4th District, including:

  • Apprenticeship Center in Spokane, $3.36 million;
  • Spokane County Library District, $2 million;
  • Doris Morrison Learning Center, $1.03 million;
  • Spokane Valley Boys and Girls Club, $1.03 million;
  • Spokane Valley Fairgrounds Exhibition Center, $750,000;
  • Boys and Girls Club of Spokane County, $600,000;
  • Felts Field Gateway Project, $400,000;
  • Liberty Lake Regional Park Phase 1 and water access, $906,000; and
  • Flora Road River Trail Property, $1 million.
  • Spokane Chairlift repairs, $750,000.

Projects such as the Spokane Valley Fairgrounds Exhibition Center and the Felts Field Gateway not only improve the quality of life for our families, they are also crucial to the economic health of our region. I am also pleased that we were able to secure a million dollars for the Flora Road River Trail property. These are the kinds of investments that will pay long-term dividends for our district.

Click here to learn more.

Free Press

Because freedom matters for all Washingtonians

By Sen. Mike Padden, Free Press Publishing

In the midst of this year’s legislative action, three other Republican senators and I officially launched the Senate Freedom Caucus.

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.

In the days since announcing the Freedom Caucus, we have fielded one call after another, asking one simple question: Why?

The answer is not complicated. While the members of the Freedom Caucus are committed conservatives and members of the Senate Republican Caucus, a coalition focused on protecting our liberties has never been needed more.

Click here to read the full article.

Update: Sen. Jeff Wilson of Longview joins Senate Freedom Caucus

Video Session Review

Freedom Caucus Galloping Gertie Awards

Click the image above to watch the “Gerties” presentation.

The Senate Freedom Caucus holds a post-legislative session media availability to review the 2021 session and announce the recipients of its "Galloping Gertie Awards for Epic Legislative Fails."

‘Stealth emergency clause’ added to unconstitutional income-tax bill

The language would prohibit citizens from challenging the income tax through a referendum

Padden on the stealth emergency clause

Click on the image above to watch Sen. Padden’s floor speech opposing the stealth referendum ban in the majority’s income tax proposal.

In the News:

Bill requiring officers to intervene when they see excessive force heads to Inslee

By The Associated Press | April 12, 2021

The Washington State Legislature passed a bill that would require an officer to intervene when witnessing a fellow officer using excessive force.

… Spokane Valley Republican Mike Padden said on the floor Tuesday that there were still major issues with the bill, expressing concerns with the punishment for an officer if they do not follow the procedure exactly and the timing of the training. Current law enforcement officers must be trained no later than Dec. 31, 2023, which Padden said he did not think would be enough time, since the model policies will not be developed until the end of 2022.

Click here to read more.

Nurses should be able to move freely around the country, so they can help out where they are needed most

By Elizabeth Hovde, Washington Policy Center | Apr. 22, 2021


Just as state-only driver’s licensing makes zero sense in this land of the free, nursing licensure that limits nurses to practicing only in one state is senseless, because it blocks skilled medical staff from going where they are needed most.

Luckily, many states are part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which is modeled after the nation’s Driver License Compact. It could take care of the nursing-licensure problem and make temporary emergency exemptions unnecessary.

… After tabling the proposal from Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, to make Washington a nursing compact state, the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee had a work session about the issue on April 14. It was informative and should be helpful in showing state lawmakers how Washington can help solve nursing shortages. Watch it to learn more.  

Click here to read more.

You may also watch the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee work session about this issue, which was held on April 14.

2021 Government Guide now available!

GG Cover

The 2021 Government Guide in now available for downloading. To see the contents, click here.

This 4th Legislative District guide to government provides information on how to contact federal, state and local government offices and services. It also has some great information about our legislative district and some of the institutions and people that make it such a great place to live, visit or start a business.

A limited number of printed copies are also available. If you would like to have a hard copy of the guide mailed to you, please contact our district office at 509-921-2460 or contact my legislative assistant John Jourdan by email at John.Jourdan@leg.wa.gov.

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: Mike.Padden@leg.wa.gov

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.