This year’s legislative session is barely a week old, yet Democrat lawmakers’ early actions on proposals designed to help those most impacted by Governor Jay Inslee’s unnecessary economic restrictions reveal the true priorities of their party – unchecked political power.
The bipartisan Senate Bill 5114 was introduced by Republican Leader John Braun from Centralia and Issaquah Democrat Mark Mullet (a small business owner, which is exceedingly rare for modern Democrat politicians). If passed, SB5114 would advance all of the recently Inslee-defined regions of the state to enter Phase 2 of his latest random pandemic plan. If passed, it would allow many small businesses to reopen (though under extremely strict health guidelines).
The legislation aims to end the failed one-man rule of the state’s economy by Governor Inslee and allow the legislature to have a voice in how and when his cruel and random restrictions can be lifted. The bill is supported by those who work in restaurants, bars, small retail shops, gyms, fitness centers, theaters, museums and hotels – all industries severely harmed by Gov. Inslee’s shutdowns. It is also supported by those who want to lift more of the restrictions on faith services and those who want to return children safely back to in-person instruction.
This bipartisan bill deserves a fair debate in the legislature, yet Democrat Senate “leaders” want to protect Inslee’s dictatorial rule over the state and kill the legislation before it can even be voted on by the full state senate (which would allow more of the public to be aware of it). This is why the bill was sent to the State Government and Elections Committee, chaired by the extreme far-Left partisan Sam Hunt (Olympia), instead of the more appropriate Business, Financial Services, and Trade Committee (which is chaired by Senator Mullet).
Governor Inslee and Democrat Senate leaders know that Senator Hunt will do what the party bosses tell him to do, and will quietly kill the bill, while Senator Mullet would have allowed a fair debate to pass his bill out of his committee and force all Senators to vote on the legislation – something most Democrat Senators do not want to do. The Democrats just don’t want to be bothered with learning more about the scientific data which proves the impacted industries can operate safely – and without Governor Inslee’s overbearing interference.
On Wednesday morning (scheduled at the same time as the Biden inauguration to reduce attention), the bill received approximately a one-hour public hearing, despite 1,637 Washingtonians registering to offer remote testimony. We should note that 93% of those registered to speak had indicated they supported the bill. Chairman Hunt limited each person’s testimony to just one minute, and told staff to cut off people’s microphones, even in mid-sentence – something which Olympia observers said has not been done by any other committee chair this year during remote testimony.
Senator Mullet noted that the overwhelming interest in the hearing “should be sending a message that people want to find the [reopening] path that saves the businesses and protects public health.”
However, Chairman Hunt’s view on the need to protect Gov. Inslee from any criticism or curtail his dictatorial authority was framed by insulting all of those who asked to testify as not smart enough to be listened to by the Democrats: “Frankly, I line up the groups that like to follow the scientists more than just a wave of emotion.” (We should note that many people who wanted to speak at the hearing had plenty of data to show that small businesses can operate safely, but Senator Hunt did not want to be bothered with this data.)
After the brief hearing, Senator Hunt indicated that he will not hold additional hearings on the bill, and thus deny hundreds of Washington residents their chance to tell their elected leaders how Governor Inslee’s orders have severely impacted their lives. Hunt’s actions demonstrate that the Democrats obviously do not care.
(We do notice the Hunt’s committee next week will be holding a public hearing on what should be the state’s dinosaur. We wonder if that bill will receive more of the committee’s time than the concerns of Washington residents who are losing their jobs and small businesses.)
A quick look at Senator Hunt’s Public Disclosure Commission reports reveals why he is unconcerned with the pain and suffering which private sector businesses and workers have experienced. Senator Hunt’s 2020 campaign was fueled by maxed out donations from state employee unions and tribal governments.
State employees, who did not lose a single paycheck during the pandemic, were handed their second pay raise in twelve months last July by Governor Inslee. And while small business throughout the state were closed by Inslee, tribal governments moved early in the pandemic to lock in the competitive advantages (afforded them by the Democrats running state government), resumed operations of their casinos, allowing thousands to gather together to conduct the “essential” activity of gambling.
It is worth noting that the tribal-run casinos stayed open even when COVID-19 infections were skyrocketing in tribal communities. If Governor Inslee was consistent in keeping “non-essential” entertainment facilities closed to protect the health of Washington residents, then he could have threatened to pull the monopoly of the lucrative sports gambling business he handed tribal casinos during the 2020 legislative session. This action might have caused many tribal governments to rethink their actions.
On the House side, Representative Drew MacEwan (R – Union) and Representative Mike Chapman (D – Port Angeles) have introduced a companion bill (HB 1321) in their chamber. Like Mullet, Representative Chapman is one of the few members of his caucus to have a background in the private sector.
And just as occurred in the Senate, the House Democrat leadership has chosen to bury the legislation by sending it to an inappropriate committee for further actions. We fully expect Chair Representative Eileen Cody (D – West Seattle) to give HB 1321 the same dismissive attention in front of her Health Care and Wellness Committee as Sen. Hunt gave SB 5114.
The Democrats’ actions in just the new legislature’s first week, once again reveal there are two separate Washingtons under Governor Inslee and Democrat rule – those who fund Democrat campaigns and those who don’t.
If you are like the state employee unions, which regularly pour millions into Democrat campaign coffers, you don’t miss a paycheck and are even given a pay raise while the pandemic rages. If you don’t fund the Democrat campaigns and work in the private sector, the Democrats do not care, and the Democrat lawmakers certainly don’t want to spend any of their very valuable time listening to the incredible pain Governor Inslee’s policies have caused the people of Washington.