Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Local lawmakers support ending state of emergency

by Angelica Relente, Herald Legislative Writer
| April 1, 2021 1:00 AM

Some Republican legislators, including those in the Basin area, are requesting an end to the governor’s state of emergency before the legislative session concludes through a letter addressed to the majority and minority leaders in the Senate and House.

Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver, wrote the letter on Monday. The steps Washington state has been taking to gradually reopen shows the state is ready to “fully return to normal,” Kraft wrote in the letter.

“The people of Washington have been telling us they are ready to get back to living life to the fullest,” Kraft wrote in the letter. “We are at an important point in this journey and need to ensure our ability as elected leaders to deliver on their request.”

The state has been in Phase 3 since March 22, according to the state’s coronavirus response website. Under Phase 3, restaurants and gyms can operate under a 50% indoor capacity, among other things.

Local legislators who signed the letter include Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake; Rep. Keith Goehner, R-Dryden; and Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy.

Goehner said in an interview with the Herald many things are still operating under Inslee’s emergency proclamations. The letter enforces the message the state needs to move forward and give control back to the people and local governments.

“We’ve only got so much time,” Goehner said.

The number of people susceptible to COVID-19 has been diminishing as more vaccinations are given, Goehner said. Lifting the state of emergency does not mean there is no regard for COVID-19 anymore, he said.

“(Lifting the state of emergency) just shifts the burden … and allows people to make their own choices rather than the proclamations of the governor,” Goehner said.

Warnick said in an interview with the Herald she signed the letter to show support for Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, and Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm. Both Braun and Wilcox have indicated they, too, want the state of emergency to end, she said.

“It’s time that we end this declaration and move on,” Warnick said. “We know how to be healthy now. We know how to protect ourselves (and) protect our vulnerable (people). We haven’t been sitting in a vacuum this whole time.”

Kraft said in a press release it makes sense for Gov. Jay Inslee to enact a state of emergency during certain situations, but she is worried Inslee will continue having the “unrestricted ability to single-handedly set emergency rules for the state.”

“A year of power for one person to set state policies without the involvement of the people’s representatives is not the way our government is supposed to work,” Kraft said in the release.