Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Roger Harnack
Publisher 

Senate Minority Leader Schoesler reacts to quarantine extension

Gov. Inslee extends 'stay home' order to May 4

 

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville

RITZVILLE -- Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler doesn't agree with extending the statewide quarantine until May 4 due to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Responding to Bainbridge Island Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee's order last night to extend his "stay home" order until May 4, Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said there has to be some flexibility for the state's rural and other areas.

"We're not out of the woods, yet," Gov. Inslee said. "This order is not only necessary, it's morally necessary."

"The economic realities are going to come crashing real fast," Sen. Schoesler said, noting that too many Washingtonians have lost their jobs, even in communities that generally have not been plagued by the virus that originated in Wuhan, China, he said.

"I'll make due in my life," he said, noting he told Gov. Inslee that a two-week extension would have been more appropriate.

During his press conference, Inslee said that ordering people to stay home was the only way to slow the spread of the coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China.

"It's till important to reduce non-essential travel and non-essential contact with others," Inslee said.

The governor said "it's still OK to get outside," but stopped short of rolling back state restrictions on fishing, boating and access to publicly owned lands managed by the state.

"Our state parks are closed for a reason," he said, claiming that reason is to prevent people from congregating and spreading the virus further.

Inslee said "it is possible" that he'll push to extend the stay-home quarantine beyond May 4, but "we hope this will be the conclusion."

He added that there is "no guarantee" of lifting the order that day.

To help make that decision, the governor said state officials are monitoring heath data and "social interactions."

Inslee said state officials will be "intensely dissecting" infection rates, fatality rates and more before deciding to end the quarantine.

In addition, "We'll look at the social interactions, which now we monitor by looking at both traffic patterns and patterns of internet and cellphone usage," he said, answering a reporter's question during the press conference.

When asked after the press conference about the legality of Gov. Inslee's extension, Sen. Schoesler said that question was above his pay grade and that Republicans have attorneys reviewing the action.

Revised Code of Washington 43.06.220 (4) limits the governor's powers in an emergency declaration to 30 days, unless the Legislature reconvenes to extend the order. In the alternative, the law allows for the Legislature's leadership - currently Schoesler, Democratic Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, Senate Democratic Majority Leader Andy Billig and House Repulican Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox of Yelm - to authorize the extension.

That subsection of state law says:

"No order or orders concerning waiver or suspension of statutory obligations or limitations subsection (2) of this section may continue for longer than thirty days unless extended by the legislature through concurrent resolution. If the legislature is not in session, the waiver or suspension of statutory obligations or limitations may be extended in writing by the leadership of the senate and the house of representatives until the legislature can extend the waiver or suspension by concurrent resolution."

Subsection (2) refers to the governor's ability to change or suspend governmental processes required under state law and the waiver or suspension of "rights under the First Amendment, of freedom of speech or of the people to peaceably assemble."

The governor issued his emergency proclamation Feb. 29; he added the "stay home, stay safe" quarantine March 23. Gov. Inslee has also issued multiple other executive orders in conjunction with the emergency proclamation.

Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island

Sen. Schoesler said he believes the 30-day limitation is based on the actual restrictive proclamation, not the emergency order. That will likely mean multiple discussions.

The Republican caucus will be discussing any extension of orders prior to closure of the governor's 30 day window.

"We will make a caucus decision," he said.

In addition, any extensions will, at a minimum, require the approval of Schoesler, Billig, Jinkins and Wilcox.

Schoesler said he didn't know if the legislative leadership will have a single letter written to cover all four lawmakers and all of the extensions, or if the process will involve multiple letters.

"We're in uncharted waters," he said.

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 5092356184
Twitter: @RogerHarnack

 

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