Washingtonians Unified in Wanting Governor’s Emergency Powers Curtailed – Opinion

Washington Governor. Jay Inslee huffed, “I’m not really excited about it.”

Fortunately, he’s pretty much the only one who feels that way.

Nearly 10,000 of Inslee’s constituents signed up to be heard last week when the Legislature took public comment on Senate Bill 5909 and House Bill 1772.

For a Jan.26 hearing on SB 5909, a total of 5,457 people called in.

Five days later, 5,405 people signed up to comment on HB1772. Nearly 5300 of these people called into the remote hearing for emergency power curtailment.

Only 118 people were against.

SB 5909, in fact, is sponsored by Inslee’s fellow Democrats.

“(I)nstead of only the governor having a say, (it would) ensure that the Legislature has a say in the process,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton).

The most substantive difference between her proposal and HB 1772, sponsored by Rep. Chris Corry (R-Yakima), is that Randall’s bill would trigger action by the Legislature after 90 days, while the Republican version wants only 60.

Both of them wait too long.

The measures were introduced nearly two years after Inslee, like numerous fellow Democrat governors around the country, overreacted to the virus by arbitrarily closing down thousands of Washington businesses — many for good — while classifying all public employees as “essential” workers, ensuring they never missed a paycheck.

Not surprisingly, Inslee is strongly backed by the state’s public employee unions.

At Inslee’s insistence, Washington adopted some of the nation’s most stringent mask and vaccine mandates, in addition to doing incalculable damage to a generation of public school students by ignoring scientists and deferring to the demands of teachers’ unions that K-12 classrooms be closed in favor of “distance learning.”

In May 2020, Inslee announced the formation of three “Safe Start advisory groups” to help guide the gradual re-opening of the state, which had been largely shut down since Inslee issued his March 23 “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order to fight COVID-19.

Referring to the panel as a “really diverse group of … community leaders,” Inslee neglected to mention that 19 of the 27 members charged with making recommendations about which businesses could open and which must remain closed were contributors to his most recent election campaign.

The same month, a probe by the Freedom Foundation revealed Inslee’s Washington State Health Department had overstated the scope of the problem by as much as 15 percent by classifying every fatality in which the patient had ever tested positive for the virus as a COVID death.

This methodology allowed even victims of gunshot injuries to be considered COVID casualties.

When confronted about the hoax, Inslee dismissed the reports as “conspiracy claims from the planet Pluto.” But days later, he quietly sent officials from his Department of Health out for a hastily arranged videoconference to admit they were true.

Typical of Inslee’s heavy-handed, politically motivated COVID response was his decision to personally intervene when the owners of Slidewaters, a popular water park in Chelan, Wash., defied his shut-down order and tried to open for the 2020 summer season.

The facility’s plan to minimize exposure and operate safely had won approval from county health officials, but Inslee instructed his Department of Labor and Industries to override their decision and shut the park down — throwing dozens of employees out of work and costing the community millions of needed tourist dollars.

Washington isn’t alone in believing its governor should have long ago sought approval for its COVID response from the other branches of state government.

For this year’s legislative sessions, in at least half the states, Republicans and some Democrats have proposed limiting their governor’s emergency powers in some way, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Supporters say existing laws that give governors sweeping emergency powers are unsuited for a multi-year crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed legislation’s opponents, which include many governors and others, claim that attempts to restrict executive authority will limit the ability of state leaders to quickly respond to crises.

Are you able to respond quickly?

It is not the purpose of legislation with emergency powers to create dictatorial banana republics, but to enable immediate and brief-term action. State lawmakers can — and must — be involved in the decision-making process within days, not two or three months down the road.

And much more.

Jay Inslee’s Washington State Legislature is Democrat-dominated and has abdicated its responsibilities over to Jay for 2 long years. Exhibits 1 and 2 are evidence of the need for severe and immediate limitations on emergency power invocations.

Jeff Rhodes serves as vice president of news and information for Freedom Foundation. www.FreedomFoundation.com

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