Local restaurants have had to adapt to new rules during the COVID pandemic. Pictured: JP’s Tavern in Federal Way’s turkey club sandwich with a side of tater tots. File photo

Local restaurants have had to adapt to new rules during the COVID pandemic. Pictured: JP’s Tavern in Federal Way’s turkey club sandwich with a side of tater tots. File photo

State lawmakers propose bill to fast-track the governor’s reopening plan

Bill’s sponsors want to give legislature control over COVID-19 restrictions.

If passed, Senate Bill 5114 will put all businesses, facilities and organizations into “Phase 2” of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Healthy Washington — Roadmap to Recovery plan.

One of the bill’s primary sponsors, Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia), said the bill will provide much-needed relief to small businesses in need of cash flow after COVID-19 restrictions forced them to either close or reduce their service.

“[Small businesses] are having a really hard time,” Braun said. “This gives them a path to survival.”

Braun said he believes some of the restrictions like those on restaurants preventing indoor service are “arbitrary” and not as effective in limiting the spread of the virus as they were intended to be. He referred to some early statistics from the Department of Health that estimated a marginal amount of infections being contracted at restaurants. Private gatherings are what Braun believes have been more responsible for the spread of the virus, and he said they have only been made more common in lieu of restaurants, bars and venues.

Another sponsor of the bill, and the sole Democratic sponsor, Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah), said Washington is one of less than five states that still is prohibiting indoor dining at restaurants, with 41 other states allowing higher than 50 percent restaurant capacity.

Mullet said the bill allows the Legislature to make decisions about the state coronavirus policies as it relates to public commerce.

It even includes provisions for the Legislature to “regularly review” public health data to make decisions about community-specific restrictions, potentially usurping the governor’s authority to make those decisions during the legislative session.

“We can monitor it,” Mullet said. “We have the same public health data [the Governor’s Office] has.”

Mullet also said the state’s effectiveness in the fight against the virus has and will continue to depend on individual choices within the lives of private residents.

Braun said the Legislature can always vote to reinstate restrictions on businesses and communities if the data shows an uptick in infections.

Through the pandemic, Republicans in the state have been critical of the governor’s unilateral approach to COVID-19 restrictions that bypassed legislative input.

“The goal is to provide perspective around the state that until this point has been missing,” Braun said.

Braun said he trusts that customers will make good decisions about risk when it comes to public behavior in the future.

“We can work together in goodwill to support public health and the economy,” Braun said. “They are not mutually exclusive.”


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Police vehicle damaged after collision (Photo Credit: Renton Police Department)
Renton Police still looking to arrest suspect after officer involved hit and run

RPD spokesperson said suspect fled on foot after causing officer’s injury.

A landslide in December 2019 created a crack in this Fall City road, allowing for a one lane entry and exit. Courtesy of King County Road Services
WA Legislature grapples with funding roads, bridges

Roads and bridges repair programs in King County are underfunded, and state… Continue reading

File photo
Proposed bill aims to trade handcuffs for help when it comes to drug use

Supreme Court decision to strike down drug possesion law leaves oppurtunity to shift paradigm

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
House passes bill to increase financial reporting, transparency by healthcare providers

Bill’s prime sponsor says it will help address healthcare equity and affordability.

“The Color of Flight,” designed and sculpted by Kirk Reese at Sunset Neighborhood Park (photo credit: Renton Municipal Arts Commission)
Renton Municipal Arts Commission is giving grants for community art projects

Grants will be awarded ranging from $500 to $10,000 in an effort to encourage community art.

Freshwater variety of kokanee salmon from Lake Sammamish. File photo
Encouraging numbers for kokanee salmon spawn count

Lake Sammamish kokanee aren’t out of the woods by any stretch, but… Continue reading

In this file photo, Tayshon Cottrell dons his graduation cap and gown, along with a face mask reading: “Wear it! Save America” at Todd Beamer High School’s virtual graduation walk recording on May 20, 2020, in Federal Way. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

Mercer Island School District first-graders returned to in-person classes on Jan. 19, 2021. Here, Northwood Elementary School students head into the building. Photo courtesy of the Mercer Island School District
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

Malden, after a wildfire burned down 80% of the town’s buildings in Eastern Washington. Courtesy photo
DNR commissioner seeks $125 million to fight wildfires

In Washington state last September, some 600,000 acres burned within 72 hours.

Most Read