Democrats plan to threaten Inslee with special session

Inslee
Images of the Washington Capitol in Olympia provided by the Washington State Patrol (WSP).

A group of state lawmakers, led by a Pierce County Democrat, plan to send a scathing letter to Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday threatening to call a special legislative session if he doesn’t reconsider the state’s reopening plan.

The letter comes two days after the governor announced all counties in Washington will remain in their current reopening phases, leaving Pierce County in Phase 2 while surrounding counties stay in Phase 3 despite failing metrics that would have sent them backward.

Lawmakers from Inslee’s own party are behind the letter and in a draft obtained by Q13 News tell the governor that his decision to leave Pierce County behind “damages both our confidence and our communities.”

The letter says granting a pause for some counties while not offering the same consideration to others “runs counter to our understanding that science and fairness shape decisions.”

RELATED: Local businesses react to Gov. Inslee’s newest phase pause

Q13 News correspondent Brandi Kruse received a copy of the draft, but agreed not to publish it in full until a final version reaches Inslee’s desk. The early draft did not have a final tally of signatures.

Some Republicans have already expressed their frustration with the letter.

House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, said in a statement that he wishes Democrats had worked with his party to put checks and balances on the governor’s emergency powers during the regular session.

“I appreciate that there may be a letter circulating among the Pierce County delegation to send to the governor, and I hope it is successful,” he wrote. “I also hope the lesson we all take from this is there should always be legislative oversight on emergency powers.”

RELATED: Inslee pauses ‘Healthy Washington’ phases for two weeks

Business owners and local leaders have expressed frustration in recent days as restaurants, gyms and retail stay at 25 percent capacity in Pierce County and 50 percent capacity in neighboring King and Snohomish counties.

Public health officials in King and Snohomish warned that they would likely revert to Phase 2 this week because of rising case numbers and hospitalizations, but Inslee said data from the weekend showed cases were plateauing.

Although hospitalizations have increased, “hospital stays are shorter and we are confident staff are handling the increase,” the governor said.

RECENT NEWS HEADLINES FROM THE KAPP-KVEW NEWS TEAM:

RELATED: Kennewick police receive new information on Sofia Juarez’s disappearance