Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced a vaccination requirement as a condition for employment for employees working in K-12, childcare, early learning, and higher education, and an expansion of the statewide mask mandate for all Washingtonians, regardless of vaccination status. This is in addition to his mandate on most state employees, health, and long-term care workers.
Under the conditions of these mandates, most workers in Washington state are now required to be fully vaccinated and ready to show proof of their vaccination status by Oct. 18 — or lose their jobs.
I have received thousands of emails from constituents across our great 31st District regarding the governor's recent mandates on the COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates. I want to thank you for reaching out to me with your concerns, frustrations, and fears.
Please know that I fully support your individual rights to make personal medical decisions regarding the vaccine. I believe everyone should consult their physician and made an informed decision on receiving the vaccine or not. Personally, and after discussing the virus and vaccine with my primary care physician, I made the decision to be vaccinated.
I oppose the governor's vaccine mandates and threats that will force employment termination for thousands of workers if you don't comply to his demands. I'm also concerned about the broad-based mask mandates for our students heading back to the classroom this fall and also the reinstatement of the statewide mask mandate that went into effect today. Decisions regarding our students should be made by our locally elected school boards, in consultation with health department officials, not by an edict from Olympia bureaucrats.
Any mandates imposed on you should be debated and voted on by both the House and Senate. Lawmaking is reserved to the legislative branch, not the executive branch. This process ensures transparency while ensuring your voice is heard in the decision-making process through your elected representatives.
With the governor making decisions alone, the transparency in how he's reaching his conclusions – including showing us the data and science he claims to base his decisions on – are not only unavailable to the Legislature, but to you. This is not how your government is meant to operate.
We have been fighting for emergency power reform since day one of the 2021 session. We introduced legislation that would reform the state's emergency powers law and protect an individual's right to refuse the vaccine without consequences.
Even a few of our Democratic colleagues have expressed concern over the governor's unchecked emergency power during this pandemic. Despite our numerous attempts to give the Legislature its proper voice as an independent branch of government during emergency situations, all those efforts remain rebuffed. I continue to support the need for a special session so we can properly address this seemingly endless state of emergency, unilateral COVID responses, and the public safety concerns expressed by our police and sheriffs.
We will also continue to try and work with the governor for as long as it takes. On Friday, August 20, Republican leaders submitted a letter to the governor expressing opposition to his recent mandates, including what forced terminations will do to an already fragile and struggling labor force. The letter also asks for the governor to provide more clarification, guidance, and transparency for the exemption process. I continue to be disappointed in his failure to engage the collective bargaining units, ignoring the fact there is not a need for a “one size fits all” mandate.
The governor's executive emergency powers and extreme overreach continue to be too much, go too far, and has lasted for too long. I will continue to fight against these top-down, unchecked mandates.
Please continue to contact me with your thoughts, questions, and concerns on this issue. My contact information can be found on the bottom of this email.
In your service,