Walla Walla County’s three commissioners have agreed to draft a letter at the request of an organization planning a rally Sunday in Olympia to urge legislators to limit the governor’s emergency powers.
The organization is also asking the Legislature to pass a law prohibiting discrimination against people who choose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The issue arose Monday in an off-agenda discussion regarding an email Commissioner Greg Tompkins said he received from an anonymous person using the name Liberty Lover and purportedly representing the We of Liberty organization.
The email, sent to about 150 public officials in Washington, seeks support for the planned 10 a.m. rally at the state Capitol.
Commissioner Todd Kimball also received the email, but Jenny Mayberry had not because Monday was her first meeting as a newly elected commissioner.
The rally is timed the day before the Legislature begins its 2021 session.
“This is the first time (legislators) have had the opportunity to meet since Governor Inslee has mandated businesses to shut down, restricted Church gatherings, among many of the other proclamations we have faced these last nine months,” We of Liberty stated in a letter on its website.
“Our plan is to bring an overwhelming and positive show of support for our Legislature to pass Bills that limit the Governors powers that would require him to get legislative support when mandating restrictions and not executing decisions solely on his own.”
Walla Walla County’s commissioners, all Republicans, agreed to draft a letter of support.
Tompkins stated that drafting a letter “is not a bad thing for us to do,” adding that it should also include mention of not requiring businesses to require employee vaccination.
“I take people’s personal rights pretty strongly,” he said.
Kimball agreed with the group’s recommendation of limiting the governor’s power to issue emergency mandates. “It’s a little too much power in the hands of one person, so I’m fine with drafting a letter,” he said.
Added Mayberry: “I’m 100% for it.”
Mike Faulk, deputy communications director for the Democratic governor, responded to a U-B inquiry about We of Liberty’s objectives.
“We think the proposed legislation about limiting the emergency powers of the executive branch represents a misplaced frustration,” he said. “The pandemic is the problem, not the governor’s appropriate steps to save lives in the midst of an unprecedented emergency,”
Faulk added that Inslee has never endorsed the idea of mandatory vaccinations and has consulted with legislators throughout the pandemic response.
According to the state’s Department of Health website, “It will be your choice whether to get the vaccine for COVID-19. Washington is not currently considering any mandates for the vaccine, but employers could require it.”
We of Liberty said on its website that it intends the rally to be “a peaceful show of support … and no negative or derailment of this event will be tolerated.”