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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
After the election in November, Gov. Jay Inslee issued another economic shutdown of our restaurants, bars, gyms, churches and retail establishments. This original order was to be for 30 days but just this week the governor held another press conference to announce these restrictions will be extended until Jan. 4, 2021:
I know we are seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases in our state and nation, but we cannot continue down this path of unilateral economic decisions made by one man. Workers are being denied the ability to feed themselves, pay their rent or mortgages, or meet basic needs and necessities. Too many small businesses, especially in the hospitality services, have already gone under with more on the way unless we figure out a new path forward that doesn't demolish the hopes and dreams of so many.
I sent out a press release in November calling for the governor to open up our economy, call the Legislature into an immediate special session, and to make sure the 2021 legislative session is in-person, not a remote one. You can read that release here.
As you can imagine, the governor continues to go it alone despite many legislators from both sides of the aisle asking him to call a special session. I do not believe the framers of our state constitution ever envisioned an emergency scenario where one person would rule like a king for close to a year. As legislators, we are elected by – and represent – people from all four corners of the state. Yet our voices – and the voices of our constituents – are being left out of the decision-making process. There are things that the Legislative branch can do – options available to us – that the Executive branch cannot do. Don't our citizens deserve every option available? As other states convene special sessions, and as our own state has had around 50 special sessions since the early 1980s, doesn't the current COVID-19 crisis justify a special session?
To press this matter home further, I joined with 52 lawmakers in calling for a special session initiated by the Legislature instead of the governor. If two-thirds of the members of the Legislature agree, we can call ourselves into a special session! As we said in the letter:
“COVID-19 demands our immediate attention as elected officials. The 'one man' approach to state government has failed to control COVID-19 or staunch the economic suffering that continues to unfold across Washington. Case rates are increasing, and the imposition of more regulations by the governor is putting unbearable stress on the people of this state.”
You can read the letter in its entirety by clicking on the graphic below.
Unfortunately, we cannot proceed down this path without assistance from Democrats in Olympia, who at this point, seem content to let the governor rule by decree.
Here are some recent editorials and stories backing up our call for a special session:
EDITORIAL: Call special session now to give businesses badly needed financial aid | Yakima Herald
EDITORIAL: If you want the GOP's help slowing COVID, Gov. Inslee, you need to let them in | Tri-City Herald
GOP leaders call for special session in wake of governor's COVID-19 restrictions | The Olympian
I also want you to know that I am doing everything I can to ensure the Legislature meets in person come the regular legislative session in January. I know COVID-19 is real; I know close friends who fell desperately ill due to this disease; I do not underestimate it. However, I know what I signed up for when I ran for re-election. The peoples' work is too important to relegate to a handful of ZOOM meetings. Legislators must be allowed in Olympia to sponsor legislation, debate the merits of bills, and vote on policies that will impact ALL Washingtonians. Right now, we're hearing that majority Democrats in both the House and Senate are leaning toward a “virtual session,” despite most of them living within 50 miles of Olympia. I don't know one House Republican – even those who have serious underlying health conditions – who thinks a remote legislative session is a good idea. We'll see if the majority party listens to us.
In closing, thank you for reading my email update. And thank you for sending me back to the Legislature to work on your behalf. It is an honor to serve the hardworking families in the 6th Legislative District. Please continue to contact my office to share your stories, concerns and ideas. We will get through these tough times. My office is here to help.
427 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7922 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000