Lawsuit filed over Washington State House’s COVID-19 session plan

A handful of Republican state legislators and others are suing Democratic leaders and a House official over a plan that would allow a limited number of lawmakers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on the chamber floor during the upcoming legislative session.

The new plan released by House officials last week also requires representatives who fail to verify their vaccination status to undergo COVID-19 testing three times a week to work in their on-campus offices.

It also requires members of the public to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours to sit on the gallery of the House that lawmakers overlook as they work.

Washington State Capitol in Olympia.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

The Seattle Times reported that the lawsuit was filed Monday in Thurston County Superior Court. It was filed by Representatives Jim Walsh, Robert Sutherland, Jenny Graham, Rob Chase, Bob McCaslin and Jesse Young, plus citizens from those lawmakers’ districts who say they are affected by the restrictions placed on their representatives.

“The Plans appear to be a backsliding method used by a few tyrannical members to impose Governor Inslee’s mandate on a legislative body specifically exempted from the mandate,” the complaint said, citing the governor’s vaccine mandate. for employees of the executive branch.

Democratic House Speaker Laurie Jinkins said the lawsuit was unfounded.

“Once again, certain members of the House Republican Caucus are choosing to perform performative stunts for media coverage rather than model public health best practices to protect fellow lawmakers, lawmakers and the public from a highly contagious virus” Jinkins said in a statement. prepared comments. “The House operations plans enable all members to fully represent their constituents and fulfill the duties of their office amid an ongoing pandemic.”

The legislative session starts on January 10.

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