Inslee’s refusal to accept citizen input is biggest barrier to public buy-in, says Spokane Valley lawmaker

Shortly after Gov. Jay Inslee held a Sunday press conference to announce a new ban on social gatherings and further restrictions on businesses, Sen. Mike Padden began hearing complaints and pleas for help from constituents in his 4th Legislative District.

“The people of this state are concerned about the safety of our communities and issues of hospital capacity; they want us to take the pandemic seriously, but they also want us to consider the economic and emotional pain these new restrictions will create,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley.

“The families and small business owners who I am hearing from are rightfully alarmed and angered by the governor’s illogical and Draconian response to the spike in COVID-19 cases. They want solutions that are balanced, fair, and consistent with the data.”

According to the Spokane Health District and Washington Department of Health:

  • Only 5.7% of all beds occupied in Spokane Co. are by COVID patients;
  • There are 81 patients hospitalized with COVID in Spokane Co. at the moment; and,
  • Less than 60% of all licensed hospital beds in Spokane Co. are occupied (Total number of beds in Spokane Co. is 1531; Total beds occupied are 907).

Padden points out that Washington has already lost more than 3,000 small businesses – most likely permanently – due to COVID-related shutdowns. The governor’s latest order means even more business shutdowns and increased unemployment over the holidays – a time of year that is already ripe for depression and suicide. Panicked shopping can cause disruptions in the supply chain, and long lines outside of grocery stores with reduced occupancy limits could once again have a disproportionate impact on the elderly and disabled. Many restaurants that are barely hanging on may not survive this latest blow.

“The governor’s order hits groceries and restaurants the hardest, even though those businesses represent less than 2 percent combined of all COVID transmissions, and by the governor’s own admission, are already faithfully enforcing social distancing, hygiene and masking mandates,” said Padden. “It is unfair and simply does not make sense.

“More importantly, my constituents are frustrated that Governor Inslee seems to be making these rash decisions without listening to the concerns of Washingtonians and the lawmakers they send to Olympia to be their voice.

“Any solutions to address the spread of the virus will take the buy-in and active participation of the public. How does the governor expect to get that level of cooperation, when he has repeatedly shut the public out?”

Padden pointed to comments he received from a constituent from Greenacres, who wrote: “The new restrictions imposed by Gov Inslee are disappointing to say the least. Not being able to spend time with our loved ones, having to be isolated, is far more dangerous for our health and mental health than a virus…. I am begging you to take action against our tyrannical Governor.”

A woman from Spokane wrote Padden, saying, “Many small businesses are relying on Black Friday to recover and don’t have the ability to sell online. …Also furloughs for my family members cripples us, and even more so before the holidays. Wait, what holidays? That’s not a thing anymore apparently.”

Padden urged the governor to listen to these Washingtonians’ concerns.

“Since the start of this pandemic, my colleagues and I have been pleading with this governor to call the Legislature back into emergency session, so we can share the ideas and views of the people we represent and help be part of the solution,” Padden said.

“Unfortunately, Governor Inslee has repeatedly rejected those requests.”