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Groups Unite to Oppose Inslee's Attempt to Permanently Mandate COVID-19 shots via Rulemaking Process

State Capitol in Olympia, WA & ICWA logo

State Capitol in Olympia, WA

Washington Gov. Inslee issued a Directive, pressuring government entities to permanently mandate Covid shots for certain state employees.

The proposed rulemaking represents Governor Inslee’s latest attempt to exceed his authority, this time by instructing OFM to circumvent the proper legislative process.”
— Lisa Templeton

KIRKLAND, WA, USA, August 8, 2022 / -- Informed Choice WA (ICWA) united with Silent Majority Foundation (SMF), Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), and Joy Lockerby of Lockerby Law, PLLC, to oppose proposed rules filed on July 6, 2022, by the Washington State's Office of Financial Management (OFM).

The proposed rules filed under WSR 22-14-104, as originally written, would permanently mandate COVID-19 shots and all boosters recommended by the CDC for all nonrepresented state civil service employees. The impacted employees are already required to be vaccinated under Governor Inslee's emergency proclamations, which are still in place. The proposed rules attempt to make the requirement permanent for existing and new employees.

This rules proposal was preceded on June 30, 2022, by Governor Inslee’s Directive 22-13, in which he stated, “I am directing a permanent COVID-19 vaccination condition of employment requirement for state executive and small cabinet agencies." Inslee defined "up-to-date" as an individual having every primary and booster dose recommended by the CDC. He also directed the OFM's State Human Resources Division to take steps to permanently mandate the shots for all nonrepresented employees, and to begin working with labor organizations to permanently mandate the shots for represented employees as well.

On August 5, 2022, the Governor's Office issued a press release, announcing he had updated Directive 22-13 based on "feedback and recommendations from state employees and labor partners." The requirement to receive a primary series remains, and OFM is already bargaining with labor organizations. The most significant change was the removal of the booster requirement, telling OFM to instead "pursue options to incentivize" state employees to get all the boosters.

While incentivizing uptake of COVID-19 shots is not new, the ethics of the practice is debated. "The justification for the initial incentives to encourage people to get the COVID shots was based on what has been shown to be incorrect information," said Alvin H. Moss, MD, an expert in ethics and law. "The shots do not prevent infection or transmission, as initially thought, and coercing people to get them has not prevented waves of COVID infection in the fully vaccinated and boosted. Boosters are not preventing serious illness or death." Dr. Moss added that he believed it is time to consider other approaches that maximize benefit and limit harm.

In their joint comment, submitted to OFM one day prior to the August 5 updates, SMF, PJI, Lockerby, and ICWA argue:

“It is improper for OFM to implement a COVID-19 vaccine requirement through the rulemaking process as the subject matter of the proposed rules must be enacted under statute through the legislature. OFM lacks legal authority to implement such a rule.”

ICWA board members also filed a separate comment, asking the OFM to “stand up for the civil servants you serve and withdraw WSR 22-14-104. Without checks and balances in government, without agency heads willing to say no to unethical directives, our republic and freedom vanish.”

Vaccination mandates have historically been controversial and heatedly contested, but the level of opposition to the COVID-19 shots is unprecedented. With President Biden becoming infected and relapsing despite four COVID shots, and former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah Birx admitting she knew the shots would not stop infections and that half of those who died of Omicron were vaccinated, the mood of the general public is shifting.

Lisa Templeton of ICWA said, "The proposed rulemaking represents Governor Inslee’s latest attempt to exceed his authority, this time by instructing OFM to circumvent the proper legislative process. It is concerning that a state agency would be tasked with unilaterally establishing permanent laws intended to coerce our state workers into indefinitely receiving liability-free pharmaceutical products that carry the risk of harm and that fail to work as advertised to prevent infection or transmission. This abuse of power could be a test case for other states whose governors have also refused to relinquish emergency powers for over 800 days. Before the stakes become any higher, it is critical that Washingtonians take peaceful actions to prevent the rules from taking effect."

OFM will hold a public hearing via an audio-only conference on August 11, 2022, at 8:30 a.m. Pacific. Those interested in attending may dial 888-285-8919 and enter pin 8101730 and code (if asked) 415.

The intended date of adoption of the rules is August 18, 2022.

Bernadette Pajer
Informed Choice WA
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