Senator: Inslee’s $10K L&I COVID Penalties “Unconstitutional”
Whether it's from the views, opinions and feedback from citizens, legislators or even some in the media, it's clear that Gov. Inslee has not hesitated to use every square inch of his 'emergency powers' when it's come to dealing with COVID-19. You don't need a magnifying glass to see that.
Unlike Oregon and some other states, Washington (and CA) give their Governors noticeably more power for emergency proclamations in times of crisis. However, as the weeks pass, frustration is growing over apparent, perhaps covert, attempts by the Governor to 'end-run' the law. Some even in the Seattle media are accusing Inslee of going too far.
This week, Gov. Inslee announced that the Department of Labor and Industries would be granted the 'power' to find businesses up to $10K if they re-open before being allowed by the state.
However, the reaction from one of the leading GOP Senators, Doug Ericksen of Ferndale, was swift and decisive. Ericksen says the new "emergency rule" is not legal and violates state laws. From his release Thursday:
"...Ericksen observes that the Department of Labor and Industries has never been granted the authority to adopt the emergency rule. Under the Washington constitution, the Washington Legislature must delegate authority before state agencies can adopt regulations. State law provides a laundry list of circumstances under which L&I can issue emergency rules. Supporting a governor’s proclamation of emergency is not one of them.
In his letter, Ericksen notes that none of the specific statutes cited by L&I give the agency the authority to adopt the rule."
Ericksen explained further in his release how this new "emergency rule" changes, without approval, the role of Labor and Industries.
"The rule transforms L&I, an agency charged with enforcing workplace safety regulations, into an agency charged with enforcing the governor’s coronavirus shutdown orders."
Ericksen has called for a special session of the legislature that would address the $7 billion dollar shortfall in state revenues through 2023 cause by Inslee's COVID shutdowns. At THAT time he says, “If Gov. Inslee believes these fines are such a good idea, he should submit the idea to the Legislature, so that it can make the final decision."
There was no mention of any immediate legal action that might be taken against this illegal process.
It's rather obvious that the reason pushed through this idea is because there has been so much resistance to business closures; many businesses are quietly opening early, and his 'snitch list' idea of reporting COVID violations turned into an epic disaster.
The list was obtained via Freedom of Information and Public Records Acts, was widely published and distributed, and became a brutal joke.