Reps. Jim Walsh and Jesse Young send challenge letter to governor over dubious L&I rules

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CONTACT: Kent Livingston, Public Information Officer for Rep. Jesse Young | 360-786-7031
Kelley Payne, Senior Public Information Officer for Rep. Jim Walsh | 360-786-7761

Reps. Jim Walsh and Jesse Young send challenge letter to governor over dubious L&I rules

Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, and Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor, have, once again, sent a formal challenge letter to the governor over an emergency rule the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is trying to rush into effect.

This new letter challenges a proposed L&I emergency rule that extends temporary authority for L&I to enforce the governor's various COVID-related proclamations against businesses operating in Washington state.

Walsh and Young sent their first challenge letter to the governor several months ago, when L&I was first enacting the temporary COVID-related enforcement authority it's now trying to extend.

The new challenge letter follows state law controlling how emergency rules are made. By law, the governor is supposed to reply to the authors of such a challenge letter within seven days. Gov. Jay Inslee failed to do so when Walsh and Young submitted their first challenge letter.

The 19th and 26th Legislative District lawmakers had this to say about their second formal challenge letter, which was recently transmitted to the governor:

“Here we go again. Last fall, when L&I tried to sneak by a bureaucratic 'emergency rule' giving itself enforcement authority on several of the governor's dodgy edicts, we caught them.

“We had help from employees inside L&I who knew what the agency was doing was unfair and wrong. But the governor and his agency were so isolated in their cocoon of COVID righteousness that they couldn't even muster a response to our lawful challenge letter.

“Now, they're trying to extend their 'temporary' rule — which is illegal. And we've caught them again.”

In their most recent challenge letter, Walsh and Young point out state law prohibits agencies from extending temporary emergency rules. And they argue, with COVID hospitalizations and deaths on a sharp downward track, there is no required “good cause” for the COVID-related L&I enforcement powers to be in place.

“For more than two years, the people of Washington have been living through a constitutional crisis. The governor and his bureaucratic agencies have run roughshod over the people — and state law.

“Now, some might say that our challenge letters over this bureaucratic abuse focus too closely on technicalities. But the process is important. We're a nation — and a state — of laws, not of men. The governor and his agencies need to do a better job of following the law.”

Click here to read Walsh and Young's recent challenge letter to the governor.

The 2022 legislative session is scheduled to conclude on March 10.


Washington State House Republican Communications