The last edition of The Current for 2020

2020 interim • May 10, 2020 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Dear Friend:  

Due to election-year restrictions, this could be the last edition of The Current for 2020. The exception would be if there is a special session later this year.

I wanted to take this opportunity to discuss the governor's recent actions and share my thoughts on them, and provide some links to additional information. Thank you for reading.   

Governor extends his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order 

By now, you know that Gov. Inslee extended his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order to May 31. He also signed a new order for a phased re-opening of our economy, which included a new COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard

I am disappointed in the governor's decisions and concerned that his approach -- which has already created confusion -- will cause more harm to our lives, economy and institutions. I realize there is a lot of passion on both sides of this issue. And I appreciate you allowing me to share my perspectives. 

An economic and emotional toll

Washingtonians are seeing their livelihoods threatened if not destroyed. This has created a lot of anxiety, frustration and concern. People want certainty, hope and a sense of normalcy, but they are not getting it. And many are having trouble navigating our state's unemployment system

State lawmakers are hearing about these stories in calls and emails. They are absolutely heartbreaking. And House Republicans are responding.  

What are House Republicans doing? 

In this video, I discuss the various things my caucus members have done during the coronavirus crisis. This includes the Safe Economic Restart Plan we released back on April 17, a concept  for a decentralized, county-by-county approach to safely restart our economy, and the various letters we have sent to the governor and his staff.

Most importantly, House Republicans and staff have been working to help constituents navigate this maze created by the governor's stay-home order. This includes a comprehensive coronavirus website, which was up and running even before the state's official website. We are proud of this work and it continues. 

Safely restarting our economy and lives 

In no way am I suggesting that our state flip a switch and return to its ways of life in February. Our daily routines have changed and the way we go about our lives will be different in the future -- including when we walk into businesses and institutions.

But our governor must be able to focus on lives and the economy at the same time. I have said that to him directly. Our state can -- and must -- safely restart its economy more expeditiously than the uncertain timelines and phases the governor has proposed. 

In this video, I call on the governor to: accelerate the phases of his order; increase the number of counties that can apply for variances; balance public health with civil rights; and trust Washingtonians. I hope you have a chance to watch it. 

What other states are doing 

Safely restarting our economy is what other states are already doing, including Colorado and its "Level 2: Safer at Home" plan. Colorado has a Democratic governor, is part of Gov. Inslee's Western States Pact, and has a similar amount of coronavirus cases despite having far fewer residents than Washington. 

Protecting our most vulnerable   

As our state moves forward, we must focus on our most vulnerable -- especially our long-term care patients and those who take care of them. These facilities have been at the epicenter of our state's health crisis.

One of my colleagues, Sen. John Braun, makes a compelling case that our state is failing this highly at-risk group -- and continues to. In this recent edition of his Economic Sense series, John calls for five actions to better protect the lives of our most vulnerable and provide more tools to those on the front lines who are caring for them. Please take a look. 

An answer to a commonly asked question 

I am often asked: Did the Legislature approve the governor's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order and the extensions of it? The answer is: No. I explain more in this video.

The four legislative leaders, including myself, work with the governor to temporarily waive certain statutes and regulations. Many of these actions are good for our state. You can find the list here

You can learn more in these links: 

Special session

There could be a special session later this year. When state lawmakers return to Olympia, they will be faced with declining tax collections and tough decisions. As this story highlights, our state expects to take a big revenue hit. And this threatens the programs and services that address our state's most pressing problems. 

If a special session is called, House Republicans will be ready with solutions. We have already shared some policy proposals in our Safe Economic Restart Plan and will have other ideas for the operating budget. Please stay tuned. 

Thank you 

In closing, I just want to thank you for reading this publication and sharing it with others. Important things are happening in your Legislature and I have done my best to apprise you of the highlights in these email updates.  

Please be sure to sign up for The Capitol Buzz if you have not already, and visit our legislative news aggregator, The Ledger, for current stories and opinions.  

I hope you have a happy Mother's Day. 


Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7912

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