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Padden takes oath as senator

Certification confirms win; he attends raucous hearing

OLYMPIA – With some protesters chanting in the hall during his swearing-in and others disrupting his first committee hearing, Republican Mike Padden began his first day as state senator for Spokane’s 4th District.

Padden won the Nov. 8 election but couldn’t take the office until those results were certified Tuesday afternoon. At 2 p.m., with his wife, Laura, at his side, Padden repeated the oath of office administered by state Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson, and officially replaced Jeff Baxter, who had been appointed to the seat earlier this year.

Outside the Senate chambers, protesters opposed to further cuts to programs covered by the state general fund budget were chanting “we are the 99 percent.”

After a brief reception for family and friends, Padden was in his seat for the raucous Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing on Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed budget cuts. Elected to the state House of Representatives in 1980 when the state was also in a recession, Padden is no stranger to tough legislative sessions that struggle with declining revenues. Republicans were swept into a majority that year, but in 1981 they approved a sales tax on food and lost so many seats in 1982 they were back in the minority for more than a decade.

Padden said he chaired some controversial hearings during his House years.

One on a bill that would have repealed affirmative action was probably more crowded than Tuesday’s budget hearing, but everyone respected the process.

“We need to set priorities and work our way out of this,” Padden said Tuesday evening after the hearing.

“I don’t think it helps their (protesters’) cause to be arrested.”

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