Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Earlier this month, the governor announced vaccination requirements for most state employees, private health care and long-term care workers. Last week, he announced further vaccination requirements for employees working in K-12, most childcare and early learning, and higher education, as well as an expansion of the statewide mask mandate to all individuals, regardless of vaccination status.
Under his vaccination mandates, most employees in Washington must now be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or lose their jobs.
Rep. Mike Steele and I issued a statement to the media over the weekend regarding the governor's announcements. Click here to read our statement.
I have heard from thousands of you, as have my colleagues from across the state, opposed to the governor's actions.
I am frustrated the governor has chosen this course of action. Mandating vaccines to our educators and health care workers at the expense of their jobs and income is unnecessary and heavy-handed. This is an individual's personal health care choice.
Last year, the governor was praising our health care workers battling this virus on the front lines, and our educators, tasked with teaching online and then doing what was necessary to allow our students to get back in the classroom for in-person learning.
Now, he has threatened these workers will be terminated from their place of employment unless they are vaccinated. This is not the way to treat our most essential employees during this pandemic. Forcing vaccinations upon these workers could drive them out of some of the most important, essential professions needed during the pandemic. We cannot afford to lose health care workers or educators during this critical time.
Rather than enforce more mandates and requirements, we need to allow school administrators to work with their school boards, consider parental and local input, and put our trust in our local school districts. I recently signed onto a letter to the governor requesting he reconsider the mask mandate in schools and, at the very least, let school districts make that decision with the input of the parents in their communities.
The mandates go back to one-person control during the pandemic and legislators being left out of the decision-making process. I have mentioned emergency powers reform many times. It isn't for a lack of effort. We introduced many bills to reform the state's emergency powers law, including House Bill 1557. There was even a Senate bill introduced at the beginning of session, Jan. 12, to protect an individual's right to refuse the vaccine without consequences. You can find more information on our emergency powers reform legislation, the new proclamations, questions, stories and much more related to the COVID-19 pandemic on our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources page.
While legislators continue to lean on the governor's vaccine and mask mandates, police reforms, the long-term care tax, the need for a special session and much more, it is critical he hear from you, the citizens of Washington state. He needs to be aware how many of you are worried, concerned or frustrated with his decisions and how they impact you and your family.
Meetings, tours and events around the region
Issues surrounding COVID-19 are obviously getting most of the attention, but I am busy meeting and talking with constituents, touring facilities and attending meetings. Here is a snapshot of just a few of the things I have been up to:
- I attended the Chelan County sheriff's meetings on the police reform legislation passed last session. They were well attended with concerns brought up by law enforcement as well as community members.
- As a member of the House Transportation Committee, we toured the Port of Moses Lake and Grant County International Airport to see the work they are doing to support Washington's military and civilian aerospace sectors, and the immediate wildfire response resources.
- I recently met with officials from the Diamond Foundry about the work they are doing and their interest in continuing to stay in the region and expand their workforce.
- I have met with school administrators and school boards in the area to discuss the governor's mandates and loss of funding and staffing concerns.
Thanks to all of you who have reached out on a variety of issues over the last few weeks. Your input is helpful as we work to address these issues in the upcoming session. Please continue to contact me with any additional questions or concerns.
It is an honor to serve the 12th District.