Gov. Inslee, your time is up
Commissioners unanimously reject stay-home quarantine citing RCW 43.06.220(4)
Last updated 4/21/2020 at 11:43am
PASCO — Gov. Jay Inslee's time has expired, at least in Franklin County.
Five minutes into the county commissioners’ 9 a.m. meeting today, April 21, commissioners voted unanimously to reject provisions under Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home quarantine order.
Commissioner Clint Didier moved to reopen the county; the motion was seconded by Commissioner Brad Peck.
“I move that Franklin County end recognition of the governor’s stay-at-home emergency proclamation that is now deemed unconstitutional,” Didier said. “We support the reopening for all builders and small businesses that want to work.”
Chairman Robert “Bob” Koch joined Didier and Peck, making the rejection of Gov. Jay Inslee’s order unanimous.
The motion followed a request from business owner Joel Prantle, who asked for the county to take immediate action on behalf of local businesses and residents.
“I’ve got workers that are suffering,” he told commissioners.
According to Prantle, many Franklin County businesses have been shuttered, and many of the workers left unemployed can’t get benefits.
“Everyone of them is suffering and they’re going to close and they won’t reopen,” he said. “We need to get back to work as soon as possible.”
Initially, Peck questioned the authority of the commissioners to reject the authority of the Governor’s Office.
But then he started reading Revised Code of Washington 43.06.220 aloud.
Subsection 4 limits the governor to 30 days if his order conflicts with constitutional rights.
“By my reading, this is Day 90,” Peck said. “As far as I’m concerned, our county is open…”
The move to reopen comes a day after Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond posted a letter publicly stating that his office would not enforce quarantine orders on churches or residents who need to work to care for their families.
“Our governor has overstepped his constitutional powers and is trying to control us under the guise of protecting us,” Raymond said. “He states that he is protecting us from the current pandemic, but is
simultaneously creating an economic crisis. He is trampling on our constitutional rights.”
Raymond acknowledged the coronavirus “is real and needs to be dealt with appropriately.” So, he encouraged residents and businesses to take appropriate voluntary social distancing measures.
But, he said, he is bound by his oath of office to uphold the constitutions of both the state and the U.S.
“I emphatically believe in the individual right to worship as supported by the First Amendment,” he said. “And I, as the Frankly County sheriff, and my Sheriff’s Office are not going to enforce any order prohibiting the free exercise of religion."
Her further said residents have the “right to work and provide for ourselves and our families... Neither I nor my office will enforce any arrests or fines regarding the operation of privately owned businesses.”
The actions in Franklin County follow two days of protests in adjacent Benton County.
More than 100 boats and 300 residents gathered Saturday in Columbia Point Park in Richland to demand the governor reopen fishing.
On Sunday, more than 500 rallied along George Washington Way and called on Gov. Inslee to lift the quarantine and abide by the constitutions of the state and federal governments. Simultaneously, more than 2,500 people protested on the state Capitol campus in Olympia.
Last week, Douglas and Chelan counties both reopened home construction on permitted projects in defiance of the governor's order.