12th District Reps. Goehner and Steele issue statement on governor’s education mandates

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CONTACT: Kelley Payne, Senior Public Information Officer for Reps. Mike Steele and Peter Abbarno | 360-786-7761

12th District Reps. Goehner and Steele issue statement on governor’s education mandates

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a vaccination requirement 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.

12th District State Reps. Keith Goehner, R-Dryden, and Mike Steele, R-Chelan, issued the following statement on the governor's mandate:

“We do not believe the governor has the authority to enforce these mandates, but we are in uncharted territory as there does not appear to be case law that sets a precedent allowing the executive branch of government to dictate these requirements.

“The governor's actions have put our school districts in a very difficult position – terminate staff and lose state or federal funding if they are out of compliance. It is also taking away the focus of where it should be – providing a strong framework within the classroom for our students. We cannot afford another year of students not getting in-person education. However, with the latest orders, that is what we are facing if school districts are losing teachers, staff, and critical funds. It should be noted, our teachers, staff, and students did a phenomenal job last year as many schools returned to in-person learning without an outbreak, before the vaccine was available.

“Allowing our school districts and their administrators more local control could lead to a more collaborative and inclusive approach to these decisions.

“The governor continues to leave legislators from across the state out of the decision-making process, as we operate under 'emergency' orders with some of the most extreme mandates in the country in place. Our state government was designed so there is a balance of power between the executive and legislative branches of government and there has been no balance since the pandemic began.

“Over the last year, we have tried numerous times to address the emergency powers situation, as well as high profile issues such as COVID-19 funding, state agency security breaches, students returning to school in a more timely manner, police reforms, poor long-term care tax policy and more.

“Letters have been written, bills have been dropped and many calls have been made for a special session to request some type of governmental balance during the pandemic. It is time to let lawmakers have a role in this process – that is what we are elected to do.

“Once again, a special session ending the emergency would allow legislators from both parties in the 49 districts a seat at the table and the ability to work with other local officials and constituents to address the difficult issues we are facing, specifically the education mandates.

“It is important those with concerns, comments, or questions also contact the governor's office and the Office of Superintendent Public Instruction, so they are fully aware of what is on the minds of the thousands of citizens in the 12th District who have contacted us.”


Washington State House Republican Communications