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Washington State House of Representatives GOP Members File Lawsuit Against New COVID Vaccine Requirements

The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on individuals, families, and small businesses. Now that numerous vaccines have received full FDA approval, many companies are requiring their employees to be vaccinated. Furthermore, the Washington legislature has instituted a policy requiring state representatives to present proof of vaccinations against COVID-19 before they are allowed on the floor of the house.

Recently, several Republican members of the Washington State House of Representatives filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the requirement that members show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before moving to the floor of the house. The lawsuit asked for an injunction until the full legal challenge could be heard.

In the lawsuit, the members are claiming that the new policy limits access to facilities in the House of Representatives unlawfully. The lawsuit also claims that the new requirement violates the First Amendment rights of the members of the House of Representatives. In addition, the lawsuit targets house restrictions that prevent representatives from accessing their offices without proof of vaccination.

A judge in the Superior Court in the state of Washington disagreed with the position of the plaintiffs. She stated that the plaintiffs had not met the threshold to be granted a preliminary injunction. She claims that the restrictions do not prevent the legislators from doing their jobs, and denied them the preliminary injunction. Of note, this preliminary denial does not mean that the lawsuit is unsuccessful. It simply means that the legislators will not have the requirements halted temporarily until the fall case can be heard.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the case moving forward. There are numerous controversies taking place across the country related to vaccination requirements. For example, the state senate allows legislators and their staffers to be on the floor of the Senate regardless of vaccination status. Members simply need to receive a negative test before they are allowed on the floor of the Senate.

The results of this lawsuit could be seen as a precedent for the rest of the state. Even though it might be a while before the case is heard, everyone in the state of Washington will follow the lawsuit closely.

Some Workers in Washington State Are Fighting Vaccine Mandates

A proclamation signed by Governor Jay Inslee mandates that broad swaths of workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18th in order to keep their jobs. The proclamation includes most long-term care and health providers, and all K-12 education, childcare, college and state employees. The governor states that his authority lies within his February 2020 declared state of emergency due to COVID-19. According to the governor, he then has broad authority under that state of emergency to protect the health and safety of those he governs.

Some workers who are in danger of losing their job are fighting back. They have filed a lawsuit stating that the governor has overstepped his authority, and that he cannot force people to get vaccinated as a condition of employment. Among other claims, the lawyers for the state workers who signed on to the action say that the vaccine mandate for workers violates the 14th amendment. Among other things, that amendment says that the state can’t make and enforce laws that unduly affect people’s rights as citizens. To these workers, a vaccine mandate does just that.

The lawsuit also challenges the lack of religious and medical exemptions built into the governor’s proclamation, and a subsequent letter sent by the Spokane Fire Chief that the city would not make such exemptions. According to a letter sent to employers, this decision was based on the city’s ability to protect the health and safety of others who work with the unvaccinated.

In total, the lawsuit gives eleven reasons why the mandate is unlawful. It seeks monetary damages for the violation of federal law they see through the mandate, continued employment without vaccination, and repayment for attorney and court costs. The lawsuit is funded by a non-profit organization called the Washington Citizens for Liberty. It names not only the governor, but other government officials such as the Secretaries of the Departments of Transportation and Social and Health Services.

While the lawsuit is still in its early stages, it is one of many filed by workers across the country who believe that governors overstep their bounds when they put vaccine employment mandates in place.