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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Gov. Inslee announced that most of Washington will be allowed to move to Phase 2 beginning Sunday, Feb. 14. Phase 2 allows limited indoor dining and fitness facilities to open. In addition, Phase 2 allows:

  • Social gatherings: people can gather with a maximum of five others from outside of their household. 
  • Outdoor gatherings: outdoor gatherings are allowed with 15 people from outside of one's household. 
  • Indoor dining: indoor dining reopens at 25% capacity.  
  • Wedding ceremonies and receptions: ceremonies and indoor receptions, wakes or similar gatherings are allowed and must follow the appropriate venue requirements. Eating and drinking requirements apply if food or drinks are served, and dancing is prohibited.
  • Sports and gyms: low-and-moderate-risk sports competitions are allowed, with a maximum of 200 spectators outdoors, but tournaments are not. High-risk sports are allowed for practice and training. Fitness, training and indoor sports can operate at a maximum of 25% capacity. 
  • Indoor entertainment establishments: indoor entertainment establishments can operate at a maximum of 25% capacity or 200 people, whichever is less. This includes aquariums, arenas, theaters, concert halls, indoor gardens, museums, bowling alleys and trampoline activities. If food or drinks are served, eating and drinking requirements apply. 
  • Outdoor entertainment establishments: outdoor entertainment establishments are allowed with groups of 15 and a limit of two households per group. There is a maximum of 200 people, including spectators, for events.  

While I'm glad to see that most of Washington will progress to Phase 2, the South Central Region, which includes Ellensburg, Yakima, the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla will not.

I know that officials working in the South Central Region are working hard to make sure that reporting is accurate and steps are being taken to hopefully be able to Phase 2 in two weeks. As a reminder, to move to Phase 2, a region has to meet three of the following four requirements over a period of two weeks:

  • 10% decreasing trend in case rates
  • 10% decrease in coronavirus hospital admission rates
  • ICU occupancy that's less than 90%
  • Test positivity rate that's less than 10%

When asked about the parameters and expectations for Phases 3 and 4, the governor has remained silent. At this point, it doesn't appear that those guidelines are finalized.

Why are the fences still up at the state Capitol?

When the legislative session began in January, it was on the heels of the Capital Building in Washington D.C. and the governor's mansion in Olympia having been occupied for a time by protestors. I do not condone either action. As a result, the National Guard was called to our Capitol Campus and installed fencing around the buildings. But now, a month later, with no rallies, no further demonstrations, why are the fences still up?

I believe the barriers – as they currently sit – prevent people from experiencing their Capitol campus, even though the buildings themselves may be closed. They send the wrong message to the people about the legislative process.

House and Senate Republican leaders sent a letter to Gov. Inslee, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the House requesting an explanation and extending a commitment to work together to find solutions that protect our campus but provide access to the people. You can read that letter here.

Legislative cutoff and House Republican budget

Monday, Feb. 15 marks the policy committee cutoff. Bills that are not out of their respective policy committees by that day are considered “dead” for the rest of session. The remainder of next week will see a lot of fiscal committee action – the Transportation, Appropriations, Finance, and Capital Budget committees. Followed by several days of floor action as we debate and vote on bills.

Next week will also see the release of the House Republican operating budget. We have been working since last summer on a new two-year operating budget that fully funds the priorities of getting people back to work and kids to school safely, all without new or increased taxes. Stay tuned for more information.

Thank you for reading my email update and for staying involved. As a reminder, should you ever want to testify or submit written testimony on a bill, click here for more information.


Joe Schmick

State Representative Joe Schmick, 9th Legislative District
426B Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7844 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000