GOP wants to limit Inslee’s emergency powers

OLYMPIA – Republicans in the Washington State Legislature have been frustrated by Gov. Jay Inslee issuing sweeping directives regarding COVID-19 pandemic responses without calling an emergency session and involving the lawmakers for input on restrictions and relief funding.

GOP lawmakers feel the governor has sidelined them while spending nine month issuing proclamations that they say are crippling the economy. House Republican Leader Rep. J.T. Wilcox (R-Yelm) said they will work to reform emergency legislation to ensure the lawmakers are involved if a state of emergency exists for longer than 30 days.

“If a state of emergency is going to be continued past a certain date or longevity, then the Legislature should be called in,” he said. “We now know that we can do a virtual session of the legislature, and the legislature should be involved in decisions regarding whether or not we are going to have a state of emergency that doesn’t really have a clear end.”

Only the governor or a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate can call a special session. So far, Inslee has refused to take that step and he is supported by the Democratic majorities in both chambers.

The regular session of the legislature begins Jan. 11.