PASCO, Wash. (AP) — The Franklin County commissioners have rescinded their controversial resolution allowing businesses to reopen in portions of the eastern Washington county despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The three-member board on Tuesday had unanimously voted to “end recognition” of Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at home order issued to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The Tri-City Herald reported Thursday the commissioners voted 2-1 to rescind that resolution, which had come under fire from Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
While the commissioners took action intending to defend out-of-work people, Commissioner Brad Peck said the execution of the effort wasn’t perfect.
“It brings us to a point today where it’s appropriate for the board to consider rescinding that resolution passed on Tuesday,” he said during a special meeting Thursday. “Further actions will be done in more careful contemplation with our legal counsel.”
Peck was joined by Commissioner Bob Koch in rolling back their stance. Commissioner Clint Didier, who didn’t say anything at the public meeting, voted against rescinding.
The vote followed an hour-long closed-door executive session with County Prosecutor Shawn Sant, other county attorneys and Sheriff Jim Raymond.
Inslee and Ferguson issued a joint statement this week condemning Franklin and Snohomish counties for decisions to allow non-essential businesses to reopen. The Franklin County resolution only applied to businesses outside the incorporated areas of Pasco, Connell and Kahlotus.
After the commissioners approved the handwritten resolution, the governor’s chief of staff David Postman told reporters it could legally jeopardize businesses and risk people’s health.
A letter from the governor’s office to Franklin County said businesses could be cited and fined if they violate the state order. They also can’t rely on the Franklin County resolution to defend themselves from those fines.
“The action taken by the board of commissioners intentionally and knowingly violates an order issued by the governor pursuant to his emergency powers … and it therefore violates state law,” said the letter to the commissioners that demanded they retract the resolution.
In response, Peck admitted that he acted in haste and wrongly believed the Legislature hadn’t approved extending the governor’s declaration of emergency.
However, Peck said he still believes Inslee has gone too far in respect to restrictions on church services. He also expressed concern that Boeing workers are being allowed to return to work while workers in Franklin County cannot.