VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Washington Republicans continue to push for a special session in Olympia to address COVID-19 issues and a large state budget shortfall. GOP lawmakers held a virtual news conference Monday to voice their mounting concerns.
Many Republican lawmakers in Washington state started pushing for a special session not long after the pandemic hit the western region of the state back in March. The COVID-19 outbreak was the first in the US and Governor Jay Inslee quickly became the face of one of the country’s strictest lockdowns.
“I know we sound like a broken record, but we’ve been asking the governor since May to help us and call the legislature back into special session to address these very pressing needs,” said Sen. Doug Ericksen of Washington’s 42nd District.
Inslee has been cautious in reopening businesses, schools, and social activities. Many Republican lawmakers, who are currently the minority party in Olympia, believe that a special session is needed so that everyone’s voices can be heard. While the governor has left school reopenings up to individual school districts, some GOP lawmakers feel the governor’s guidelines are stifling conversation about what is best for the children.
“Not having conversations is the biggest frustration for a local school district,” said Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber of Washington’s 7th District. “If you don’t hear from your executive branch during a major declaration other than on TV, you really don’t feel heard. And a lot of the school districts feel they are not being heard through the OSPI or the governor, other than the proclamations that come out.”
Governor Inslee’s office told KOIN 6 News that schools have not been required to close during the current school year and the recommendations made by the state are just that—recommendations. How instruction is carried out is still up to individual school districts.
The governor is up for re-election in November, and whether he or the challenger, Loren Culp, wins, the legislature will reconvene to address all this in January. While that is only three months away, Washington state Republicans say the time to address these issues is now.