The Legislature’s role in temporarily waiving statutes and regulations.
Q: Have legislative leaders approved an extension of the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order?
A lot of people have asked: Have legislative leaders approved an extension of the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order? The answer is simply: No.
The governor structured this order to avoid having to ask for legislative approval to extend it. He issued it under emergency powers that authorize him to “prohibit” activities during the entire length of time he deems a state of emergency to exist (RCW 43.06.220(1)).
The extensions that legislative leaders approve are temporary waivers of certain statutes and regulations. Legislative leaders include the Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, Speaker of the House and House Minority Leader.
The extensions that legislative leaders have approved are beneficial for many Washingtonians during the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Examples include:
waiving late fees and penalties on tax payments;
allowing health care delivery through telemedicine;
relaxing standards for opening new health care facilities;
waiving continuing education requirements for health care workers so they can focus on providing health care for the time being; and
waiving requirements to allow notaries to notarize documents through remote methods, to name a few.
These are good things for our state and make sense.
At this time, extensions are only being authorized by the Legislature through May 4 – the date the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is set to terminate. This is because we expect the governor to inform the Legislature and the public, before that date, of whether he intends to unilaterally extend the order (with or without modifications), whether he will ask to extend additional proclamations and why they are needed, and whether he will continue insist on going it alone.
Now that the situation appears to be stabilizing and our health care system will not be overwhelmed, we believe the governor should pivot from unilateral control to partnership with the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government and representatives of the people. We have urged the governor to partner with legislative leaders in developing a safe re-opening plan for Washington.
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