Rep. Jim Walsh issues statement on governor’s vaccination mandate for state employees and health care workers

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced today that most state workers in Washington, as well as private health care and long-term care employees, will be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 18, or lose their jobs.

This latest announcement dovetails on the governor's decision several days ago to require students and staff in Washington State schools to wear masks when students return to the classroom in the fall.

19th District State Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, issued the following statement on both mandates by the governor:

“The policies announced in today's press conference are an outrageous misuse of the emergency powers the people of Washington grant their governor.

“The current governor, and everyone in this state, should expect widespread resistance to these latest constitutionally dubious edicts. The free people of Washington have had enough. Some are leaving. But many are staying and are just beginning to find their voices.

“Today's announcements, in which the governor seems to be following the lead of King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, cross some significant lines. The Washington State Constitution says, in Article 1, Section 1, that the purpose of state government is to 'protect and maintain individual rights.' We've wandered far away from that good principle.

“This latest edict violates every Washingtonian's due-process and privacy rights, Section 3 and 7; their freedom of religion and conscience, Section 11; and the ban on special privileges given to some groups but not others, Section 12. And there may be even more constitutional problems with these orders.

“It's not the proper role of government to mandate what people put in their bodies. The state government can make public-health recommendations about actions like wearing masks or getting shots to slow the spread of COVID. However, it does not have the authority — without legislative action and 'the due process of law' — to force injections on people.

“This governor's administration has produced some really bad results. And those bad results are showing up everywhere: Rising crime rates, unstable tax policy, and, in these recent mandates, mismanagement of executive powers that is simply decadent.

“These edicts have a bad influence on other public servants. About ten days ago, the elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, flip-flopped on an issue of great concern to families of Washington's school children: The ability to choose whether to wear a face-covering to school.

“Initially, according to his staff, Reykdal suggested to the governor a policy for K-12 school children wearing masks in class should be subject to family choice. Instead, seemingly, Reykdal caved to the governor's demand that school children must wear face masks. Rather than standing on his principles, Reykdal reversed his opinion. He then sent a letter to the state's school boards, arguing the Governor's edict 'has the power of law' and threatening to cut off funds to any school board that disobeys.

“In this state, we elect the Superintendent of Public Instruction independently of the governor. In fact, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is a non-partisan office. The idea is to discourage bad things like partisan political threats of cutting essential money to schools. And to encourage putting K-12 kids and their families first, ahead of partisan politics. So, why did the current Superintendent of Public Instruction abandon his proper duties by threatening to hurt school districts if they disobey? Bad influence.

“We need major changes in Olympia. I call on the free people of Washington to reclaim their constitutional powers. And to demand that the current Governor follow the state constitution's command that he protect and maintain Washingtonians' individual rights.”


Washington State House Republican Communications