The Washington Department or Labor and Industries (L&I) filed an emergency rulemaking package last week extending emergency powers to Democrat Governor Jay Inslee. This package, which is an extension of current mandates, grants Inslee the ability to enforce COVID vaccine mandates on all private businesses in the state of Washington, according to elected officials.
Washington state house representatives Jim Walsh (R-Aberdeen) and Jesse Young (R-Gig Harbor) released a statement on Monday condemning the actions of L&I.
"This mandate from L&I demonstrates a complete lack of transparency, which dilutes public trust in our government and fails to show the agency's good faith in promulgating the rule. The reality is this move by L&I is a blank check for the agency to enforce any of the Governor's mandates or edicts on private employers."
"If L&I desires to make such a rule, it should do so in an open and transparent manner that allows public review and comment. Even if an opportunity for review and comment is not afforded the public, L&I's website should host the proposed rulemaking to grant easy access to the public," they continued. "Furthermore, adopting such a broad, vague rule without clear direction will lead to arbitrary enforcement."
Walsh and Young questioned the ethics of Labor and Industries and said the department cannot demonstrate that it "exercised honestly" to arrive at the rules granted to Governor Inslee.
"There is no clear case for 'good cause' or 'the preservation of the public health, safety, or general welfare' as the governor's proclamation already addresses these issues, making L&I's mandate arbitrary and capricious," the representatives added. "We call on the governor to immediately repeal this mandate. If L&I wants to push this policy, it needs to go through the proper channels and work with the Legislature."
Last week, Walsh announced on Facebook that he had been was locked out of buildings on the Capitol campus in Olympia for failing to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
In the video Walsh said, "...this is not legal and it's not moral. We are absolutely falling into some sort of Stockholm Syndrome that's taken a hold of the legislature here in Olympia. And rather than being that active check against the Governor’s abuses, we're following the Governor's lead. That's not what we're supposed to be doing. We're supposed to be standing up to that and representing you and giving you a voice in the John L O'Brien building or over there under the dome."
Inslee issued a vaccine mandate in August and unlike other mandates across the country, provided no option to test-out. His message was crystal clear, obey or lose your job. Despite mass protests across the state with thousands of state workers in attendance, Inslee followed through on his orders and terminated thousands that decided not to comply.
Those affected by the first wave of vaccine mandates were state and city workers including; firefighters, law enforcement officers, healthcare workers, public and private school employees, power line workers, caregivers, etc.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan imposed a near identical mandate with the same October 18 deadline as the Governor and terminated essential employees in departments that are already understaffed, like the Seattle Police and Fire Department.
As of Monday, October 25, Washington state residents living in King County, which includes Seattle, are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter establishments including restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues.
If Inslee follows through on L&I's emergency rulemaking package, all businesses and employees in the state of Washington will be subjected to submitting proof of vaccination as a condition of employment.