Senate Democrats miss deadline on special session vote

State Sen. Phil Fortunato is admonishing his Democratic colleagues for failing to take up a resolution sent to the Senate Rules Committee for a vote. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig and Lt. Gov. Denny Heck, who chairs the committee, Fortunato notes that the Legislature should have called itself into a special session by Sept. 14, but the Rules Committee had not met for a procedural vote.

It’s unlikely that the governor would call a special session to curb his own emergency powers, but under the state constitution the Legislature can call itself into session. Fortunato’s letter started the process outlined in joint rules adopted this year by the House and Senate, which begins with a resolution submitted to the Senate Rules Committee, something that has never been done in state history.

“We set up this process, but it seems that the majority party is more concerned with protecting the governor’s autocratic powers than representing the people,” Fortunato exclaimed. “My constituents are clear that they want the Legislature to act to curb the governor’s vaccine mandates, emergency powers, protect local control in schools, and fix flawed police reform legislation. We can’t do that if the majority refuses to even get on the record.”

Fortunato is concerned that the joint rules are flawed by requiring a specific date for commencing a special session with no timeline for when the Rules Committee must convene to vote. The resolution was sent for consideration on Aug. 31, but legislative leaders have yet to respond.

“I want the people I represent to know that I am doing everything in my power to make their voices heard on these issues,” said Fortunato, R-Auburn. “All we are seeing is obstruction and delay from the majority. It’s not just my district either. These issues aren’t partisan. My advice to people frustrated over the erosion of their civil liberties and our democracy is to contact your Democratic legislators and urge them to support this special session effort.”