Washington

Republicans in Washington take another crack on emergency power reform | Washington

(The Center Square) – State Representatives Chris Corry, R-Yakima, and Peter Abbarno, R-Centralia, have introduced a new bill in the House of Representatives to legislate the governor’s emergency powers.

House bill 1535 would, among other things, limit a state of emergency to 60 days unless extended by lawmakers and allow lawmakers to lift certain restrictions enacted under that emergency order.

The legislation is identical to House bill 1772also sponsored by Corry, from last year’s legislature in response to the COVID-19 emergency declared by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, which ended up lasting more than two and a half years.

Inslee declared a state of emergency on February 29, 2020 and ended it on October 31, 2022, 975 days after it came into effect.

“This legislation will bring back to Washington state representative government and the oversight required by our state constitution,” Corry said expression. “The legislature and the people it represents must be allowed to resume their proper role during a prolonged state of emergency. It is vital that this proposal is heard and passed by the legislature in this session.”

According to Abbarno, it’s time for the one-man rule to end.

“Nobody should exercise tremendous powers without controls and counterbalances or a clear expiration date, even in an emergency,” he said in the same statement. “Living under a declaration of emergency for almost three years has exposed a serious loophole in our laws governing emergency powers, and it falls to the legislature, as the legislative body, to fill it.”

Corry continued in the same vein.

“There have to be limits,” he said. “The creators of our state constitution never intended the governor to wield the kind of power he has maintained for nearly three years. Of course, when quick action is required, the executive must be able to respond. But when a state of emergency lasts for months or even years, it is difficult to justify prolonged unilateral — almost autocratic — executive branch authority. The public must be able to have a say in how to proceed. That is the job of the legislature.”

Inslee has long claimed he has successfully exercised his office’s emergency powers during the pandemic.

In announcing the end of the state of emergency last year, Inslee’s office touted Washington as having the fifth-lowest COVID-19 death rate in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noting that every county in the state was low community transmission level.

Inslee’s office said if the whole country had the same death rate as Washington, around 433,000 lives could have been saved.

Whether HB 1535 will be passed by the Legislature in this session remains to be seen, but it doesn’t seem likely.

Another emergency power reform measure was introduced earlier this session, Senate Bill 5063. Sponsors Sens. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver, and Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, complains Word that Senate State Government & Elections Committee will ignore legislation.

legislature failed to pass a reform of emergency powers during the last two legislatures.


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