Rep. Brandon Vick says lawsuit is an effort to get governor to re-engage with lawmakers

Vancouver legislator joined three other Republicans in lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday

Rep. Brandon Vick (R-Vancouver) said the lawsuit he and three of his fellow legislators filed in federal court Tuesday is not an all-out assault on Gov. Jay Inslee.

“This is not necessarily the pitchforks-at-the-door type of thing,’’ said Vick, a representative from the 18th District. “This is the legal recourse we have at our disposal. We want to get back to work in a sane way.’’

Rep. Brandon Vick, 18th District
Rep. Brandon Vick, 18th District

The lawsuit is the third filed against Washington’s governor in response to his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy’’ order. The 28-page complaint was filed by the lawmakers and four others in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The lawsuit states that the emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic “has been contained’’ and that keeping restrictions in place for workers, businesses and residents of the state is not legally justified.

The lawmakers joining Vick in the lawsuit are Reps. Drew MacEwen (R-Union); Andrew Barkis (R-Olympia) and Chris Corry (R-Yakima). The lawmakers are joined by four other Washington residents as plaintiffs. The contingent maintain that their rights to work, operate businesses, obtain medical care and worship have been harmed.

“This isn’t something that anybody relishes in or is excited about, but it’s absolutely a necessary step,’’ said Vick, who added that he is not an advocate of just “flipping the switch and opening back up tomorrow.’’

Vick, and his fellow lawmakers, are frustrated that Inslee has not been willing to consult with members of the legislature during the process. Vick, himself, was a member of the task force created to assist the governor in formulating a plan for reopening the state.

“The goal was for us to give our input and suggestions for how to reopen the economy,’’ Vick said. “We had five meetings and nothing came of it.’’

Vick told Clark County Today that Inslee has now canceled all meetings of the task force “for the foreseeable future, so there is not an avenue to give input. It’s the governor’s way or the highway right now.’’

Vick added that the governor’s four-phased plan, which Inslee announced Friday, “is not the right way to go forward.’’

“Most of his powers given to him under The Emergency Act, let him do these things without consulting us,’’ Vick said. “The emergency was to make sure we have hospital capacity. We believe we have that so the state of the emergency is over.’’

Vick also said that he doesn’t believe the emergency “exists in the entire state.’’ The legislator pointed out that in 18 of Washington’s 39 counties, there have been zero deaths related to COVID-19.

“Eighteen counties without a single death,’’ said Vick, citing the Washington State Department of Health statistics.

Although Clark County, which Vick represents and where he lives, is not one of those counties, he believes “counties like Clark County shouldn’t be under the same criteria as King County.’’

Democratic response

In response to the lawsuit filed by the Republicans, Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party issued the following statement:

“This is yet another irresponsible action from Washington State Republicans that jeopardizes the sacrifices so many Washingtonians have made to save lives in the fight against this virus.

“As Democrats across all of Washington remain committed to following the science and advice of public health experts to reopen our state safely, Republicans continue to be guided by the most extreme parts of their party, pushing dangerous ideas like mass infection and violent rebellion.

“Today and every day until this November’s election, we’ll make sure Washingtonians know who was on their side and who put their lives in danger to score cheap political points.”