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Local senators vote against extending emergency proclamations

by Angelica Relente, Herald Legislative Writer
| January 14, 2021 1:00 AM

OLYMPIA — State senators adopted a resolution Wednesday during a virtual floor debate to extend all of the governor’s emergency proclamations indefinitely.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 8402 extends Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders until the state of emergency ends or until it is repealed by gubernatorial or legislative action, according to the bill text.

The resolution received 28

“yeas,” 19 “nays” and 2 excused. House representatives will vote on the resolution Friday.

Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, voted against the resolution. She said SCR 8402 was “innocuous.” There are some resolutions that should be locked in even after the pandemic, she said, but some should not be extended.

“The bigger issue was we came to Olympia to help the governor solve and help the governor … work our way, as a state, through the situation that we’re in with this pandemic,” Warnick said in an interview with the Herald. “He’s been doing it all on his own.”

Warnick said Inslee reaches out to Democratic legislators but has not reached out to Republicans as part of the legislature. SCR 8402 keeps Republicans “out of the picture.”

“We are hearing so much from our businesses, especially our restaurants, and our gyms, that their businesses are going under,” Warnick said. “They’re losing their business because there isn’t enough financial help.”

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, also voted against the resolution. He said if the state can let big-box stores like Walmart and Costco operate during a pandemic, local restaurants and other businesses should be able to do so as well. There should be no double standard between big-box stores and the people.

“We come to Olympia to be able to do the right thing,” Schoesler said in an interview with the Herald. “Instead, the majority gives the governor continued dictatorial powers.”

Two amendments were not adopted for the resolution. One amendment was to extend the proclamations until Jan. 27 rather than indefinitely. Another amendment was to move each region in the state to Phase 2 of the Healthy Washington-Roadmap to Recovery plan by Jan. 18 before extending proclamations.

Republican Floor Leader Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said the resolution impedes legislators’ ability to take action. She supported the amendment that would shorten the proclamations’ duration until Jan. 27, which would show the legislature would “roll up its sleeves and get to work.”

“It’s not that we don’t support the proclamations, but what we really have ... is a duty to express the frustrations of the people we’ve heard and frankly our own and not having been involved for so many months in the process,” Short said during the virtual floor debate.

Sen. Perry Dozier, R-Walla Walla, said the industries that have been hurt by COVID-19 are the restaurant, fitness and entertainment industries. Adding the amendment that moves regions in the state to Phase 2 would help get these industries open and recovering.

“I think we all have a duty as an elected official,” Dozier said during the virtual floor debate, “and that’s being the voice of the people that put us in this position.”