Sen. Short says it's finally time to deal with Gov. Inslee's powers

RaeLynn Ricarte
Editor, Statesman Examiner

Sen. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said the number one priority of a bipartisan group of legislators in the 2021 session that began Monday is to curb the emergency powers of Gov. Jay Inslee.

“This should be done right away,” she said. “People like checks and balances and our governor is out of control.”

Although Democrats have solid majorities in both the House and Senate and will set the agenda for the 105-day session, Short said there seems to be genuine interest in both parties to define the authority of the governor during a crisis. It has been almost a year since Inslee declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and he continues to unilaterally set the rules for how businesses can operate and citizens can live, she said.

“The legislators were voted in by the people to represent their interests and that has not been possible for almost a year,” said Short, who was among GOP lawmakers calling for a special session last summer to define the scope of Inslee’s authority. “By not allowing us to speak for the people in our districts, they haven’t had a voice.”

She believes that, 30 days after an emergency declaration, the governor should have to confer with the legislature to decide a course of action.

If that had been done, Short said balanced decisions could have been made about how to protect vulnerable populations from spread of the virus without driving small businesses into bankruptcy.

“I am concerned about the public health, we all are, but you can’t live in a glass bubble,” she said.

Short said Inslee’s new road map to recovery, which took effect on Monday, continues to put small businesses in jeopardy and many cannot make it through many more weeks of operational restrictions and shutdowns.

It does not help the situation any, she said, to have Stevens, Pend Oreille and Ferry counties lumped into the same region for phased reopening with Spokane County, which has the second biggest city in Washington and, therefore, more COVID-19 cases.

“Our case count in smaller communities is much lower than Spokane’s and these decisions need to be made based on what is going on in each county and not collectively,” she said.

Under Inslee’s Healthy Washington plan, all regions start in Phase 1 and reopening of their economies will be determined by four healthcare metrics:

  • A 10% decrease in infections for 14 days;
  • A10% decrease in hospitalization rates;
  • ICU capacity below 90% (including COVID and non-COVID patients); and
  • Infection test positivity rate below 10%.

The metrics of each region will be monitored weekly with any changes taking effect the following Monday.

Read the full story in the Jan. 13, 2021 edition of the Deer Park Tribune.