Senate passes emergency powers bill without Republican amendments

Republican leaders issue statement in response to passage of Senate Bill 5909


Senate Republican Leader John Braun and Sen. Lynda Wilson, prime sponsor of two bipartisan bills to reform Washington’s emergency powers law, offered this statement today following the passage of Senate Bill 5909

Sen. John Braun
Sen. John Braun

The measure received a 29-20 vote, after amendments offered by Wilson (Republican, 17th District), and Braun (Republican, 20th District) were turned down by majority Democrats.

“Senate Republicans had hoped to turn this unimpressive measure into something meaningful, based on lessons learned from a state of emergency that is at 718 days and counting. The majority Democrats said no to our efforts to add effective checks and balances. That meant the only option available was a bill that falls short of providing the level of reform in the bipartisan proposal we introduced more than a year ago.

“On paper, what the Senate passed today would seem to grant the legislative branch the ability to end any emergency order, and also end a declaration of emergency – but in practice this bill would do almost nothing to balance the roles of the legislative and executive branches. By rejecting our amendments and allowing the prohibitive emergency orders – like mask mandates – to continue indefinitely unless there’s a unanimous vote to end them, the majority is making sure the law would still favor the executive branch.

Sen. Lynda Wilson
Sen. Lynda Wilson

“Republicans believe prohibitive orders should automatically expire after a set number of days unless legislators agree to extend them. We view that as the more meaningful reform, and it’s consistent with the bipartisan reform adopted in 2019 concerning orders that suspend laws. We’re confident there would have been full Republican support for the bill today if the Democratic majority had agreed with the changes we offered.

“No one should hail this as a victory for the people, or as a major challenge to the governor’s authority. What this vote does most is spare our colleagues in the majority from having to go home and admit to constituents that they had ignored the emergency-powers question for a second straight year. But it’s only a matter of time before the people realize how little this bill actually would do, and they’ll be disappointed. Whether the House follows through or not, we will be back at this issue again in 2023.”

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Dave Roberts
Dave Roberts
4 months ago

Thank you for trying to get this through. Eventually more people will realize how badly we have been treated by Inslee and the rest of the Dems.

Scott Hooper
Scott Hooper
4 months ago

This looks like a win. As the State’s senior elected official and the one tasked with the most responsibility, the Governor’s emergency orders should not expire until rescinded. The legislature should always have the ability to overrule the Governor, but it should take at least a super majority. This is a check on power, which is needed; anything less is simply giving a political minority too much power.

The people have many remedies, the least and simplest would have been to not re-elect Inslee after his first emergency orders. Yet we did.

We can elect more Republican members to the Senate, because we know they oppose all COVID measures. But we haven’t.

Honestly, I worry more about hyper-partisanship more than emergency powers. I think if Inslee did something truly tyrannical, the majority of Democrats–and the people–would turn on him. I’m not so sure about the other party.

Bo Lee
Bo Lee
4 months ago

If last month’s Morning Consult WA polling is correct, we should see a rebalance of power this November.