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State senator escorted out after not submitting negative COVID test

Jan 12, 2022, 7:42 AM | Updated: Jan 13, 2022, 6:05 am
Redistricting ,senator...
The Capitol building in Olympia. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

One of the rules in the state Senate this session is that lawmakers and their staff must test negative for COVID-19 — and follow other protocols and guidelines — before being allowed in the chamber or their office.

Legislative session kicks off with packed agenda, virtual testimony, and multiple lawmakers with COVID

State Senator Phil Fortunato of Auburn was escorted out of the Legislative building in Olympia on Monday because he had not submitted the required negative COVID-19 test.

Sen. Fortunato told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show that he believes the policy is unconstitutional. He believes that because he is elected, and has a right to represent his constituents, that he has a constitutional right to be in the building.

“The point is you’re denying me access based on this new requirement for my condition of employment, which I think is a constitutional issue,” he said.

“If other senators, for example, don’t want to be around me because I choose not to get tested — OK, I’ll stay in my office,” he suggested. “But no, you can’t do that. Why can’t I just stay in my office?”

Fortunato says the testing rule is “arbitrary, illogical,” and he intends to push back against any new rules on the matter.

Washington House, Senate will start session mostly remote as COVID cases surge

The state Senate Republican Caucus says Fortunato will try again later this week to participate in the legislative session in person.

Listen to the full interview in the third hour of the Jason Rantz Show from Tuesday:

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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State senator escorted out after not submitting negative COVID test