WA lawmaker believes increased security in Olympia has gone ‘too far’
The state legislative session is currently underway with different rules, as well as a border fence around the capitol building over concerns for security. But is this hampering the public’s ability to get involved in democracy? Senate Minority Leader John Braun, Republican from Centralia, is not happy with the limited access people have, and he joined the Jason Rantz Show to discuss.
“I would not pick this method as a way to start, and am absolutely not happy,” Braun said. “And I get that we want to be careful when it comes to public health. And I get that there’s some security concerns after last week, but I think in both cases, we’ve gone too far and have, by doing so, restricted access by the general public to their legislators under the democratic process.”
“So a simple example is access to the legislative building,” he explained. “This is something we have figured out a way over the last 10, 11 months to have access to all kinds of public buildings. We use masks, we use social distancing, we wash our hands. Sometimes we have capacity limits. But we figured out a way to do it in all kinds of other buildings. Why on earth would we not find a way? And I don’t even know that the public would take us up that much on it, but they ought to have the option.”
Braun says he understands the health risks, but doesn’t see this an an either/or situation, and believes a way forward could be found.
“I am in no way dismissing the legitimate public health risks out there right now,” he said. “But there’s lots of other risk, and I think the risk of undermining our credibility is, frankly, much higher. And we also know that it’s not a one or the other type situation. We have learned a ton over the last 10 months on how to do this safely.”
As Jason noted, obviously these rules that are now in place were created before the intelligence was released. And we got word in the last few days that there are significant concerns about safety at capitol buildings across the country, with activists who might be armed, posing potential threats. Does Braun think that plays a role or should play a role as to the security in the short term?
“I think that the governor may have maybe overreacted somewhat in the current situation,” Braun said. “We have fencing around the capitol building, around the Hall of Justice, around two of the legislative buildings. I’ll note that the main office space for Republicans is not walled off. We did that on purpose because we think that folks need access to their legislators.”
“But I don’t fault the governor for being a little cautious. That’s fair, given the events of last week,” he added. “But we ought to have a plan to pull back from that as quickly as we think we safely can. And if you look at the results so far, we were not having a huge crowd there — I think were 20 or 30 people there yesterday — all peaceful. Even when we may disagree with their message, they weren’t in any way causing harm or threatening harm to anybody.”
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