Sen. Ericksen fights to reopen Whatcom County

Amendments from Ericksen, Republicans defeated by Democratic majority as Senate passes COVID relief bill

  • Proposes moving state to “Phase 2,” allowing restaurants, other businesses to reopen
  • Joins in battle to reopen schools
  • Both amendments defeated by Democratic majority

To see video of Sen. Ericksen’s floor speech, click here.

OLYMPIA – During a spirited fight over a COVID relief bill on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Doug Ericksen and fellow Republicans in the state Senate made a strong stand for reopening schools and businesses across the state – but were defeated by majority Democrats.

“We need to give people hope again,” Ericksen said. “We need to let them earn money, take care of their families. And when you travel around to the parts of the state you can’t see from the Space Needle, you’re going to find that people are truly suffering. And now is the chance, now is the opportunity, now is our time to say that we are listening. We hear you. We are here for you. Let’s get back to work, Washington state.”

The remarks came during debate on House Bill 1368, a measure allocating federal funds for COVID relief. Ericksen offered an amendment that would move the entire state to “Phase Two” of its lockdown plan, allowing restaurants to resume indoor dining, permitting gyms and entertainment venues to reopen, and relaxing state restrictions on public gatherings. Currently the governor has allowed the state’s most populous counties, in the central and south Puget Sound area, to move to Phase Two. Whatcom County is among the 32 counties around the state that remain closed.

Ericksen’s proposal was defeated when Senate Democrats objected and the amendment was ruled out of order.

Also defeated on a caucus-line vote was an amendment offered by Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, which would have appropriated $200 million to school districts for vaccinations, testing, contact tracing and other necessary activities to facilitate the safe reopening of schools.

After debate on amendments, the bill passed 47-0.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Ericksen called attention to the disparity in treatment that has idled regions beyond the Seattle metropolitan area. “What I think frustrates people so much is the disproportionate methodology under which certain regions of the state are allowed to reopen and other regions of the state are not allowed to open,” he said. “Why, for instance, can you go to the Buffalo Wild Wings in Olympia and sit inside, but when you go to Bellingham, you have to sit outside? How does that make any sense whatsoever?

“We need one policy and one plan for Washington state that will let the people know that we are actually looking out for their interests and not the interests of the government.”