Usually, when a bill does not make it out of committee, or get a public hearing in Olympia, it’s considered ‘dead.’ If that’s the case, then for the fourth year in a row, efforts to reign in the Governor’s emergency powers has failed.
Two bills have died in legislature this session
A number of years ago, the WA state legislature passed changes to the state’s emergency powers given to the governor, leaving them with a lot more unchecked power than most states. At that time, probably no one had any idea that a governor (Inslee) would use emergency powers to keep a state of emergency in place for over 1,000 days (due to COVID).
As noted by Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center, a renewed effort was made this year to try to reign in some of these powers. Two bills, one in the State House, the other in the State Senate, both did not receive hearings, which Mercier notes basically means they are dead.
According to the language, HB (House Bill) 1535 stated:
“The legislature recognizes that the executive branch is well-equipped to confront emergencies and lead responses. However, for long-lasting states of emergency when the continuity of government has not been disrupted, the legislature finds that each of the branches of government has a role to play. Accordingly, this act is designed to ensure adequate legislative involvement in long-lasting states of emergency.”
The Senate version was similiar, both sought to allow the legislature to ‘control’ how long a Governor could keep the emergency in place. However, instead of these bills, as noted by Mercier, the state House and Senate felt it was necessary to work on and pass bills giving us a state diosaur, and a state nickname.
Now, for the fourth time since 2020, emergency power reform in WA is dead.
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