Lawsuit filed over WA House’s COVID-19 session plan
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A handful of Republican state lawmakers and others are suing Democratic leaders and a House official over a plan that allows a limited number of lawmakers vaccinated for COVID-19 on the chamber floor during the upcoming legislative session.
The new plan released by House officials last week also requires representatives who don’t verify their vaccination status to undergo COVID-19 testing three times a week in order to work in their on-campus offices.
It also requires members of the public to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test taken with 72 hours in order to sit in the House gallery that overlooks the lawmakers as they work.
The Seattle Times reported that the lawsuit was filed Monday in Thurston County Superior Court. It was filed by Reps. Jim Walsh, Robert Sutherland, Jenny Graham, Rob Chase, Bob McCaslin and Jesse Young, plus citizens from those lawmakers’ districts who say they are affected by the restrictions on their representatives.
“The Plans appear to be an underhanded method used by a few tyrannical members to impose Governor Inslee’s mandate on a legislative body specifically exempt from the mandate,” the complaint states, referring to the governor’s vaccine mandate for executive branch employees.
Democratic House Speaker Laurie Jinkins said the lawsuit is without merit.
“Once again, certain members of the House Republican Caucus are choosing to engage in performative stunts for media attention rather than modeling public health best practices to keep fellow lawmakers, legislative staff, and the public safe from a highly contagious virus,” Jinkins said in prepared remarks. “The House operations plans allow all members to fully represent their constituents and fulfill the duties of their office in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.”
The legislative session begins Jan. 10.