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WA Rep: Safeguards needed so Inslee can’t ‘single-handedly’ shut down state

Artwork painted on plywood covering a downtown Seattle business closed during the lockdown this past spring. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Even though the COVID pandemic appears to be on the tail end of its life cycle, and hopefully stays that way, the emergency declaration remains under Gov. Inslee in Washington, with some critics arguing that the state should move beyond this so there’s more power and maneuverability in the Legislature, among other reasons.

Rep Vicki Kraft (R-Vancouver) is among the Republicans calling for the declaration to end, and joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss what she says is the benefit to getting rid of the state of emergency.

“I think the biggest benefit will be making sure that there is stability for our constituents and the people of Washington moving forward,” she said.

“At that point, once there is no state of emergency, the governor does not single-handedly have the ability to shut down the state again, dial it up or down as he wishes, and we should not be in this state of emergency nor operating our government like that,” she added.

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As Jason asked, wouldn’t this only be the case for the next few weeks during the legislative session? Once they’re done can’t Inslee just say, “No, we’re back in a state of emergency”?

“Well, therein lies the big problem, or opportunity,” Kraft replied. “You’re right, time is ticking. April 25 is our end of this session. And so, ideally, the Legislature, as a coequal branch of government, will act now to end that state of emergency.”

“Could the governor reinstate the state of emergency? Yes, technically he could, depending on what the Legislature does,” she said. “So the idea is, let’s have a real discussion about this — bipartisan, House and Senate — and let’s really talk about putting in some safety measures, if you will, so that there’s accountability.”

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For Kraft, it’s important that representatives are at least able to have the conversation about implementing the emergency declaration.

“One of my bills introduced this year would have done just that. It would have given the governor a chance to implement a state of emergency for 14 days, if there’s something that’s urgent, emerging, he could address it. But to really continue that state of emergency would require a two thirds majority vote by House and Senate. And those are the type of safeguards that we need to implement and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” she said.

She says with Inslee reopening to Phase 3, it’s time to recognize we are no longer in a state of emergency.

“If nothing else, I would hope in the Senate and the House, we could at least have the conversation,” she said. “To me, that’s one of the most troubling aspects — we’re all elected officials as legislators, so why aren’t both parties willing to at least have the real conversation? Thankfully, we’re not really in a state of emergency at this point. As we both know, and your listeners know, the governor this last week reopened to Phase 3, 50% capacity by and large, a lot of our businesses.”

“It is time that we deal with the reality that this is not a state of emergency, we end up with some safeguards in, and again let Washingtonians get back to real normal life.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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