Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I’d like to start by thanking everyone who attended our 8th District Virtual Town Hall last night. During the event, we talked about a subject that continues to be a top priority for me and several of my legislative colleagues: emergency powers reform.
We need your help. If you care about emergency powers reform, please consider urging the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee to hold a public hearing on House Bill 1535.
Policy cutoff is just days away, on Feb. 17. If the bill is not heard in committee and voted on by that time, it will be considered “dead.”
Why it matters: The governor finally ended Washington’s state of emergency (SOE) after more than two and a half years. During that time, we saw dozens of proclamations with little to no input from the public.
- Washington is one of only four states that hands over unilateral authority to the governor to declare and maintain a state of emergency (SOE).
- During a prolonged SOE, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislative branch, which represents the voice of the people, has an extremely limited role in determining the policies set forth by the executive branch in Washington state.
That needs to change. No office or governmental branch should be able to wield such vast powers without checks and balances, especially during a prolonged state of emergency.
House Bill 1535 focuses on emergencies that last longer than 60 days to ensure the public – and the lawmakers that represent them – have a voice.
- Under this proposal, when needed, multiple extensions of an SOE could be issued by the Legislature or, when the Legislature is not in session, by unanimous agreement of all four leaders of the House and Senate.
There must be limits: The executive branch’s prolonged unilateral, autocratic authority during the pandemic proved this reform is imperative. When an SOE lasts for months or even years, the public deserves a voice in how to move forward. That’s the job of the Legislature.
How to support this critical reform:
- Comment directly on HB 1535 with your support.
- Send an email to the chair, urging a public hearing for the bill.
- Receive notifications on HB 1535.
- Contact your legislator.
Need more information?
News and views on emergency powers reform:
- New emergency powers reform bill introduced
- State representatives sponsor bill again attempting to reform governor’s emergency powers
- Yakima and Centralia lawmakers look to curb emergency powers
- Washington Republicans take another crack at emergency powers reform