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The 4th of July is Independence Day, the annual celebration of nationhood. It commemorates the passage of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.  It is a potent symbol of national power and of specifically American qualities of independence.

Despite Independence being the hallmark of the 4th of July holiday, Washington state is only one of 14 states with emergency orders still in place. No state goes as far as Governor Inslee’s monopolization of government that has extended 857 days (as of the July 4, 2022).

The Legislature had numerous opportunities to reign in the Governor’s ’emergency’ powers and restore balance to our government. I repeatedly voted to protect the balance of power in the Washington State Constitution, uphold my legislative duties and responsibilities, and protect the voters from governmental abuse of power. I also co-sponsored HB 1772 to limit the executive branch emergency power authority and Increasing legislative involvement in gubernatorial proclamations relating to a state of emergency. Unfortunately, the Governor’s Democrat majority refused to limit the Governor’s powers and failed to vote on any bill that would limit his monopolization of government.

Rep. Peter Abbarno (R-Centralia)

Just days before Independence Day and COVID transmission levels low, Governor Inslee issued a directive making COVID-19 vaccines and boosters a permanent condition of employment for state workers in executive and small cabinet agencies. The new vaccination standards for state employees are, according to the directive, meant to head off any possibility of going back to more severe actions implemented during the height of the pandemic, including stay-at-home orders and the closure of schools and businesses.

Approximately 3% of the state’s 63,000-strong workforce subject to the mandate left their jobs or were let go right after the deadline to get vaccinated had passed. A day after the passing of the deadline, the Office of Financial Management reported 1,887 state employees quit or were fired over for not complying with the vaccine mandate.

“It’s mindboggling,” Washington Policy Center’s Elizabeth Hovde told The Dori Monson Show listeners this week. “Staffing shortages in the public sector and among healthcare workers are exacerbated by the governor’s vaccine mandate – but he’s harming state services and ruining careers,” Hovde continued. “It makes no sense.”

Current transmissions rates are low and serious illness from COVID-19 are rare compared to past strains. Evidence has shown that vaccinations and boosters do not prevent transmission to others but may help reduce the severity of illness if COVID-19 is contracted. Washington state continues to suffer low-staffing levels in critical state employment needs which will likely get worse after the Governor’s newest exercise of executive powers.

The Governor’s newest directive is another example of his ‘white-knuckle’ grip on power that should scare voters and elected officials from all political parties. The Governor’s Democrat majority in the Legislature had the chance to reinforce checks-and-balances, but chose politics over policy. Democrats have controlled the executive branch for over three decades and also control the state House and Senate. Without more balance in the Legislature, Washington is likely to see more heavy-handed unilateral decisions from the Governor.

Rep. Peter Abbarno (R-Centralia)

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