Sen. Lynda Wilson renews call for executive-powers reform as state of emergency nears 600-day mark

Lawmaker says the vaccine requirement and Inslee’s apparent lack of interest in sharing his emergency authority highlight the need for changes to the state’s emergency-powers law

The state of emergency that enabled Gov. Jay Inslee to impose a job-threatening vaccine mandate for many Washington workers will hit the 600-day mark as of Thursday.

Sen. Lynda Wilson

Senator Lynda Wilson, R-17

Sen. Lynda Wilson (Republican, 17th District) said the vaccine requirement and Inslee’s apparent lack of interest in sharing his emergency authority highlight the need for changes to the state’s emergency-powers law. 

Wilson is prime sponsor of Senate Bill 5039, a bipartisan bill that would give legislators the right to review all executive emergency mandates, including those that prohibit certain activities – such as prohibiting certain public employees from working unless they are fully vaccinated by today. 

She offered this statement:

“Since the governor ordered workers to be vaccinated by today or risk losing their jobs, we’ve seen how he plays favorites. He cut a deal with one key group of workers that gives them up to 30 days beyond today’s deadline. Recently it came to light that another key group – workers who provide in-home care to people who would seem to be at particular risk from the pandemic – has been completely exempt all along. The working people subject to today’s deadline were given no testing option and will be denied access to unemployment benefits if they are terminated. Would Governor Inslee have gone ahead with a mandate that is so extreme and biased if he knew it would be subject to bipartisan legislative review? Does anyone believe legislators would have treated the people they serve as severely, with such disastrous consequences? It is unconscionable to turn against well-qualified nurses, firefighters, state troopers and others whom the governor used to view as heroes, and leave them with no way to support their families while also threatening public safety and health.

“The governor has become so accustomed to making decisions without interference from the legislative branch that he has deluded himself into thinking he is a lifesaver without peer. He was all about the metrics when it came to restrictions on our state economy, now he dismisses the idea of relinquishing emergency power by saying there are simply too many metrics to consider. He speaks of being ‘consistent’ with the state constitution while ignoring the fundamental constitutional concept that the three branches of government are designed to serve as checks and balances. It’s no wonder the need for a legislative branch is being questioned.

“The people of Washington have had one freedom or another restricted for the better part of 600 days, while the governor has wielded more power for longer than any period in our state’s history. SB 5039 would simply allow bipartisan legislative review of the executive emergency proclamations that are most controlling of people’s lives. There’s no good reason for the governor to be afraid of that. His colleagues in the majority ignored the bill during the 2021 session, which makes them as complicit as the governor when it comes to these recent mandates. They absolutely have the authority to end his unilateral power… and should. Fortunately, this reform will be back in 2022, and it deserves serious consideration. Enough is enough.”

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