Sen. Mike Padden talks to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson about his impassioned floor speech when he asked Gov. Inslee to take down the wall around the Capitol and allow access to democracy.
Inslee’s refusal to accept citizen input is biggest barrier to public buy-in, says Spokane Valley lawmaker
Shortly after Gov. Jay Inslee held a Sunday press conference to announce a new ban on social gatherings and further restrictions on businesses, Sen. Mike Padden began hearing complaints and pleas for help from constituents in his 4th Legislative District.
“The people of this state are concerned about the safety of our communities and issues of hospital capacity; they want us to take the pandemic seriously, but they also want us to consider the economic and emotional pain these new restrictions will create,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley.
“The families and small business owners who I am hearing from are rightfully alarmed and angered by the governor’s illogical and Draconian response to the spike in COVID-19 cases. They want solutions that are balanced, fair, and consistent with the data.”
According to the Spokane Health District and Washington Department of Health:
- Only 5.7% of all beds occupied in Spokane Co. are by COVID patients;
- There are 81 patients hospitalized with COVID in Spokane Co. at the moment; and,
- Less than 60% of all licensed hospital beds in Spokane Co. are occupied (Total number of beds in Spokane Co. is 1531; Total beds occupied are 907).
Padden points out that Washington has already lost more than 3,000 small businesses – most likely permanently – due to COVID-related shutdowns. The governor’s latest order means even more business shutdowns and increased unemployment over the holidays – a time of year that is already ripe for depression and suicide. Panicked shopping can cause disruptions in the supply chain, and long lines outside of grocery stores with reduced occupancy limits could once again have a disproportionate impact on the elderly and disabled. Many restaurants that are barely hanging on may not survive this latest blow.
“The governor’s order hits groceries and restaurants the hardest, even though those businesses represent less than 2 percent combined of all COVID transmissions, and by the governor’s own admission, are already faithfully enforcing social distancing, hygiene and masking mandates,” said Padden. “It is unfair and simply does not make sense.
“More importantly, my constituents are frustrated that Governor Inslee seems to be making these rash decisions without listening to the concerns of Washingtonians and the lawmakers they send to Olympia to be their voice.
“Any solutions to address the spread of the virus will take the buy-in and active participation of the public. How does the governor expect to get that level of cooperation, when he has repeatedly shut the public out?”
Padden pointed to comments he received from a constituent from Greenacres, who wrote: “The new restrictions imposed by Gov Inslee are disappointing to say the least. Not being able to spend time with our loved ones, having to be isolated, is far more dangerous for our health and mental health than a virus…. I am begging you to take action against our tyrannical Governor.”
A woman from Spokane wrote Padden, saying, “Many small businesses are relying on Black Friday to recover and don’t have the ability to sell online. …Also furloughs for my family members cripples us, and even more so before the holidays. Wait, what holidays? That’s not a thing anymore apparently.”
Padden urged the governor to listen to these Washingtonians’ concerns.
“Since the start of this pandemic, my colleagues and I have been pleading with this governor to call the Legislature back into emergency session, so we can share the ideas and views of the people we represent and help be part of the solution,” Padden said.
“Unfortunately, Governor Inslee has repeatedly rejected those requests.”
In January, the Legislature must make a fourth DUI a felony.
By Mike Padden
Special to The Times
AFTER 176 days of work, state lawmakers passed a historic budget that lowers tuition for the first time, puts record amounts of funding into basic education and makes significant investments in mental health — all with no new taxes. But in a legislative year of big achievements, one glaring failure by House Democrats stands out.
Despite the state Senate unanimously approving a bill three times this year to get tough on repeat driving-under-the-influence offenders, the state House failed to hold a single floor vote on this important measure to help take these dangerous individuals off our roads.
Earlier this month, we got yet another example of why we must address this problem. On July 2, a 34-year-old Bothell woman was impaired and driving with a suspended license when she seriously injured a 61-year-old Lynnwood woman in a head-on crash.
According to reports, the suspect has two previous DUIs and was driving with a suspended license. A trooper on the scene wrote that the woman’s breath smelled of “intoxicants,” and a later search of her purse revealed a marijuana pipe with burned residue.
Unfortunately, this story is not uncommon.
It was just a month ago that a driver flipped his car on the West Seattle Bridge. According to police, the man said he had a drink earlier in the day and had smoked marijuana beforehand.
This was the man’s fifth DUI arrest. Police said he reeked of alcohol. A breathalyzer reading from his previous arrest was three times the legal limit. At the time, prosecutors observed he “either cannot or will not refrain from driving impaired and is a grave danger to the community.”
We ought to be glad the 32-year-old man did not injure his 1-year-old daughter who was with him at the time of the rollover accident. But we ought to wonder at a system that makes it extremely difficult to send repeat offenders to prison.
Most people see a DUI arrest as a wake-up call, a turning point that forces them to change their behavior. For others, alcohol is far more powerful than the law. They’ll get hammered and slide right back behind the wheel. For repeat offenders, the punishment that fits the crime is one that removes them from the driver’s seat altogether and puts them behind bars at a state penitentiary.
That is why I teamed up with state Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, to introduce SSSB 5105, which would make a fourth DUI conviction in 10 years a felony and allow our courts to sentence the repeat offender to state prison instead of a shorter stay in county jail.
Forty-five states have felony DUI laws — of those, Washington is the only state requiring five convictions within a 10-year period.
During our hearings on SSSB 5105, we heard directly from the families of DUI victims. We heard the story of Dennis and Judy Schulte. The couple died on a Seattle street, struck by a pickup truck that also critically injured their daughter-in-law Karina and her infant son. And we heard the story of Morgan Williams, who died from injuries sustained when a wrong-way driver struck her car on Highway 520 in Seattle. In both cases, the drivers are accused of driving while intoxicated, and for both it was a repeat charge.
The heart-wrenching and compelling stories from victims’ loved ones who testified in support of the bill should have moved all of us to action. That was the case in the Senate, where not a single member voted against this bill during its three votes on the Senate floor.
But on this issue, the leadership of the House failed the people of this state by not allowing their members to have a single floor vote on this potentially lifesaving measure.
Why? Some have suggested that the bill did not receive a vote in the House, because Democratic leadership wanted the Senate to first pass a measure that would allow property-crime offenders out of jail early in exchange for supervision and then reduce that supervision when there is “positive-time” good behavior.
If true, it essentially boils down to a demand that the Senate go soft on property-crime offenders before the House would be willing to get tough on dangerous repeat DUI offenders. That’s an outrage.
SSSB 5105 has the full support of state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, as well as backing from prosecutors, law enforcement and — most important — victims’ families.
Those who rack up a fourth DUI conviction in just 10 years clearly pose a serious danger to everyone else on the road. For many victims, SSSB 5105 doesn’t go far enough in addressing this danger. I agree.
While making a fourth DUI a felony may not be the final step in strengthening our DUI laws, it is a good first step, and one the Legislature should take as soon as lawmakers return in January.
State Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, is chair of the Senate Law and Justice Committee.