Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Gov. Jay Inslee held another press conference this week, announcing alterations to his “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” plan. While I'm grateful that he is revisiting his earlier decision and now only requiring three out of the four benchmarks be met to move to Phase 2, it is disheartening to see it only allows counties on the West side of the state to open.
The four metrics are:
- Trend in case rate: Trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population.
- Trend in hospital admissions rate: Trend in 14-day rate of new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population.
- Percent ICU occupancy: Average 7-day percent occupancy of ICU staffed beds.
- Percent positivity: 7-day percent positive of COVID-19 tests.
As you can see from the graphic above, the only counties allowed to move to Phase 2 – which includes limited indoor dining and fitness facilities – are King, Pierce, Snohomish, Pacific, Grays Harbor, Thurston and Lewis counties. It's heartbreaking to see so many of our small businesses struggling right now. I have advocated for a local approach to reopening since last spring. I trust my local health districts and locally elected officials to do the right thing for health and safety. To me, this is another example of one man having too much power, even in an emergency.
Unemployment Insurance relief
When businesses were forced to close or lay off employees because of the governor's orders, many were hit again with drastically escalating unemployment insurance rates. During the summer, and again this fall, my House Republican colleagues and I asked the governor and majority party to call us in to a special session to address this and other important matters. While it is much later than it should have been, the Legislature passed SB 5061 this week. This plan will provide relief for businesses seeing unusually high increases in their unemployment insurance rates due to no fault of their own. I believe we could have done better and much sooner. We had some amendments to make the bill better, but they were not taken by the majority party.
Law enforcement tactics, training, and equipment
House Bill 1054 is on the fact track in the House of Representatives. It passed the House Public Safety Committee on a party line vote and could be voted on by the House in the next week. This legislation is an attempt at changing law enforcement tactics, training, and equipment. While I understand the motivation behind this bill, and the need for law enforcement to continue to build trust with the communities they serve, this bill takes us in the wrong direction.
House Bill 1054 would limit certain restraint methods that officers are trained in to deescalate violent criminals. By limiting these options, the probability of using deadly force becomes more prevalent. The bill limits the use of K9 units, the use of tear gas, and the use of armored vehicles, even though all have been used to save lives – both officers and the subject. It prohibits no-knock warrants, even in highly charged situations like child trafficking and kidnapping. And, it contains convoluted and confusing directives for police pursuits.
I don't believe this legislation will make any community in our state more safe. On the contrary, bills like this make our families and communities less safe by removing options for law enforcement. If this bill comes up for a vote on the House floor I will vote against it. If you feel like you want to voice your opinion on this bill and support our law enforcement officers, you can call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and tell the operator you don't support this legislation.
Thank you for staying involved in this remote session. As a reminder, you can watch all committees and floor action on TVW. And, to participate in a committee hearing via written comments or to testify, click here.