Rep. Goehner Expresses Concern over mandates for critical public service employees

Earlier this month, the governor announced vaccination requirements for most state employees, private health care and long-term care workers. Last week, he announced further vaccination requirements for employees working in K-12, most childcare and early learning, and higher education, as well as an expansion of the statewide mask mandate to all individuals, regardless of vaccination status.

Under his vaccination mandates, most employees in Washington must now be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or lose their jobs.

Rep. Mike Steele and I issued a statement to the media over the weekend regarding the governor's announcements.

I have heard from thousands of you, as have my colleagues from across the state, opposed to the governor's actions.

I am frustrated the governor has chosen this course of action. Mandating vaccines to our educators and health care workers at the expense of their jobs and income is unnecessary and heavy-handed. This is an individual's personal health care choice.

Last year, the governor was praising our health care workers battling this virus on the front lines, and our educators, tasked with teaching online and then doing what was necessary to allow our students to get back in the classroom for in-person learning.

Now, he has threatened these workers will be terminated from their place of employment unless they are vaccinated. This is not the way to treat our most essential employees during this pandemic. Forcing vaccinations upon these workers could drive them out of some of the most important, essential professions needed during the pandemic. We cannot afford to lose health care workers or educators during this critical time.

Rather than enforce more mandates and requirements, we need to allow school administrators to work with their school boards, consider parental and local input, and put our trust in our local school districts. I recently signed onto a letter to the governor requesting he reconsider the mask mandate in schools and, at the very least, let school districts make that decision with the input of the parents in their communities.

The mandates go back to one-person control during the pandemic and legislators being left out of the decision-making process. I have mentioned emergency powers reform many times. It isn't for a lack of effort. We introduced many bills to reform the state's emergency powers law, including House Bill 1557. There was even a Senate bill introduced at the beginning of session, Jan. 12, to protect an individual's right to refuse the vaccine without consequences.

While legislators continue to lean on the governor's vaccine and mask mandates, police reforms, the long-term care tax, the need for a special session and much more, it is critical he hear from you, the citizens of Washington state. He needs to be aware how many of you are worried, concerned or frustrated with his decisions and how they impact you and your family.

 

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