Spokane Valley Republican returns on Monday for the start of a session unlike any other
Today Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, was sworn into office by Spokane County District Court Judge Patti Connolly Walker. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Olympia, the swearing-in ceremony was held in Judge Walker’s court room in the County Public Safety Building in downtown Spokane and attended by only the senator, his wife and an aide.
“I appreciate the trust the voters of the Fourth Legislative District showed in my ability to represent them in the Senate by returning me for another term,” said Padden. “I plan to honor that trust by working hard every day to be their voice, stand up for their rights and address their concerns.”
Padden will begin his fourth term as a Washington state senator during the midst of a global pandemic that will result in a primarily virtual session.
Last month a key Senate facilities and operations committee established very different protocols for the 105-day session that begins Jan. 11, including the closure of Senate buildings to the public. Debates and votes on legislation that would normally occur on the floor of the Senate Chamber will instead be conducted remotely, with just a few in-person staff and senators. The same is true of hearings and work sessions. While people will be permitted to peacefully protest on campus, they will not be allowed to gather inside the Capitol Rotunda or sit in the Senate and House galleries.
“Given the restrictions on public participation, it will be more important than ever that Fourth District residents stay in touch and communicate directly with our office,” said Padden. “That is why I will be maintaining my district office, sending out legislative surveys and encouraging the public to sign up for remote-testimony opportunities.”
Padden will maintain his role as the ranking minority member – or lead Republican – on the Senate Law and Justice Committee, as well as returning to the Senate Transportation Committee. He will also take on new responsibilities as a member of the Health and Long-Term Care Committee.
“The health-care committee deals with issues relating to health-care services, long-term care, and developmental disabilities – an issue of particular importance to me,” Padden explained. “It also considers behavioral-health matters including mental-health treatment, involuntary treatment, and children’s mental health – all issues that are of even more relevance, given how so many people of all ages have experienced the isolation of the pandemic.”
Despite the challenges of a remote session, Padden has already pre-filed several bills, including some that have already been scheduled for public hearings. Among the measures sponsored by Padden are:
- Senate Bill 5009, enacting the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act;
- Senate Bill 5024, which is aimed at reducing the barriers to condominium construction;
- Senate Bill 5027, which would aid Washingtonians with hearing disabilities;
- Senate Bill 5053, which would address parental notification for abortions;
- Senate Bill 5054, which would further strengthen the state’s DUI laws; and,
- Senate Bill 5094, concerning the creation of a policy on the use of vascular neck restraints by members of law enforcement.
Padden’s condo-construction bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Law and Justice Committee next Tuesday at 10 a.m. The committee will also hear testimony on the Uniform Public Expression Protection Act on Jan. 14 at 10:30 a.m.