Didier concerned by governor's newest plan
'Healthy Washington' strips away local health care authority, commissioner says
Last updated 1/13/2021 at 7:06am
PASCO — Franklin County Commission Chairman Clint Didier is concerned about the governor's attempt to strip health care authority away from local agencies.
During the commission meeting Tuesday morning, Didier called on the county to reject Gov. Jay Inslee's new "Healthy Washington-Roadmap to Reopening" plan. His call came during a presentation by Zak Kennedy of Potts and Associates, a consulting firm dealing with issues expected to be debated during the legislative session.
Under the governor's newest plan in a series of phased-in efforts, all of the state's 39 counties are being grouped into eight regions.
The governor has designated Franklin County to be in the so-called South-Central region, which also includes Kittitas, Yakima, Benton, Walla Walla and Columbia counties.
"He is now putting another layer of bureaucracy in between us and our state government," he said.
According to Didier, the governor does not have the statutory authority to create health care regions that usurp local health authorities.
Kennedy agreed, noting that compelling counties to surrender to a regional authority will require an act of the Legislature.
"Absolutely that will have to be a legislative action," he said.
Franklin County Commissioner Lowell "Brad" Peck, however, disagreed.
"I'm not convinced that this has to be approved by the Legislature," he said. "I think it's within the governor's authority."
Commissioners didn't take any other action on the governor's plan.
But Didier isn't the only one looking at the governor's overreach.
Also on Tuesday, Yakima County commissioners approved a proclamation denouncing the governor's efforts.
In their proclamation, commissioners noted that businesses have been "unjustly, arbitrarily and capriciously impacted" already by the governor's coronavirus shutdown orders.
They called for local government management, "not sweeping state proclamations creating arbitrary regional boundaries," for public health decisions.
Yakima County commissioners also fired a shot across the bow of enforcement tactics by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board, Department of Labor and Industries and other agencies in the proclamation. Those agencies have been the subject of protests statewide, including multiple protests in the Tri-Cities area.
"The Board of County Commissioners calls on Gov. Jay Inslee, state regulatory directors and state agents charged with workplace compliance enforcement within Yakima County to immediately cease issuance of fines and licensure sanctions," the proclamation said.
The county vowed to take "appropriate action" against Gov. Inslee for any of his "proclamations which unlawfully violate due process rights, property rights or interferes with representative democratic local government's lawful authority."
The proclamation said commissioners will not spend any local funds to enforce the governor's coronavirus mandates.
The proclamation concluded by calling on the governor and Legislature to immediately nullify the state of emergency in Washington state.
Last year, Didier attempted to get commissioners in Franklin County to reject the governor's orders and allow businesses to reopen.
He initially received support from Commissioner Peck.
But after a little pressure from Gov. Inslee's legal staff, Peck rescinded his support.