Legislature must convene itself to protect public employee privacy, rein in Governor’s powers

As Washington faces a looming public safety crisis, Governor Inslee’s latest pronouncement mandating vaccinations as a condition of public employment is a step too far for state Sen. Phil Fortunato. The Auburn Republican representing the 31st District is calling for an historic legislative session to address these issues, as well prevent further unilateral actions by the governor.

“A resolution is being introduced for the Legislature to convene itself and stand up for the rights Washingtonians,” Fortunato said. “I’m not content allowing one person to continue to rule by fiat. It’s antithetical to our Republic and our state. In this current economic climate with worker shortages and businesses shuttering, we should not be forcing more people out of work for the sake an experimental vaccine. The governor wants to talk about a rational conversation on this issue, what he is doing is the opposite.”

In accordance with the state constitution and rules adopted by the Legislature, the special session resolution must first be taken up by the Senate Rules Committee. Fortunato is pushing for a formal vote immediately.

“Senate leadership must be on record on this issue whether we will stand up for our constituents or ceded the peoples’ authority to the governor,” said Fortunato. “Making people choose between feeding their families or being a lab rat for pharmaceutical companies is a false choice. I want to be clear. I’m not saying don’t get vaccinated. I’m not downplaying the impacts that COVID has had. But I am not going to threaten people with the force of government to comply.”

In addition to protecting workers’ rights, Fortunato wants the Legislature to act urgently in the special session to address vaccine and mask mandates in schools and fix problematic public safety legislation from the regular session.

“As the year has gone on, we are seeing significant problems that the Democratic majority and governor have created,” added Fortunato. “We have to address these now.”