Saturday, January 16, 2021

Bill could move state to Phase 2 of ‘Healthy Washington’ plan

by Angelica Relente, Herald Legislative Writer
| January 11, 2021 5:40 PM

Businesses, facilities and institutions in Washington could reopen sooner than the governor plans if a Senate bill passes in this year’s state legislative session.

Senate Bill 5114 aims to safely reopen Washington. Businesses limited or restricted under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Healthy Washington - Roadmap to Recovery” plan would be allowed to reopen under the guidelines outlined in Phase 2 immediately.

Debbie Doran-Martinez, president and CEO of the Moses Lake Chamber of Commerce, said Inslee’s plan is terrible for businesses impacted by the shutdown.

“I think that he has continued — from the beginning of the pandemic — to move the end goal,” Doran-Martinez said. “Every time we get close to attaining something, he moves it.”

Residents have shown they are overcoming challenges brought on by COVID-19, which means they are ready to serve their communities safely, according to the bill. The legislature would review public health data regularly to decide whether additional actions need to be taken after the law is enacted.

As of Monday, Inslee’s plan calls for every region in the state to start in Phase 1, according to the governor’s office. Many of the restrictions for Phase 1 were in place for most counties even before this plan took effect.

Doran-Martinez said restaurants only allowed to offer take-out service are “going in the hole every single month” and have not been able to replenish their reserves. Restaurant owners would still face repercussions even if allowed to operate at 25% capacity, but not as much.

There have not been many business closures in Moses Lake, Doran-Martinez said, but there have been a number of closures in neighboring metropolitan areas, such as Spokane.

Doran-Martinez sent an email to her chamber members on Friday, urging them to reach out to their elected officials in support of SB 5114. Inslee’s plan “doesn’t give much light at the end of the tunnel,” according to the email.

“At some point, the world’s going to run dry,” Doran-Martinez said. “They’re not going to have the reserves to continue to operate, and long-standing multi-generational businesses potentially could be closed for good.”

Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, sponsored the bill with Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah. Braun did not immediately respond to requests for comment.