Dent, fellow legislators, ask governor to reconsider inequitable reopening plan

Expressing concern Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” plan unfairly penalizes rural counties and communities, Rep. Tom Dent and 39 other legislators recently sent the governor a letter requesting he reexamine his plan.

“Our letter points out that the governor’s plan penalizes counties and communities who have done a pretty good job of managing their COVID numbers by grouping them with counties who have high COVID numbers,” said Dent, R-Moses Lake. “For example, Kittitas County’s numbers are much lower than neighboring Yakima County. With the way the governor’s plan is set up, Kittitas County is going to be stuck in Phase 1 much longer than they need to be, because the urban areas to the south are inflating the region’s COVID metrics. It doesn’t make sense and it isn’t fair to those counties and the communities in regions with lower numbers.”

The letter also references some of the small towns in eastern Washington with few COVID cases, but because they are tied to Spokane County, it may delay their opportunity to open up their business and economy and move to Phase 2.

“I am getting inundated with email and phone calls. Folks are frustrated, upset, depressed and don’t know what to do. You can hear the worry and concern in their voice. You truly feel for these people. I want to do anything I can to help,” said Dent.

The governor’s plan was announced on Jan. 5 and became effective on Jan. 11. All regions in the state remain in Phase 1.

“I am hearing a variety of concerns. Folks want and need to go back to work, others are business owners who are hanging on by a thread, some are parents who are concerned about their children’s mental well-being because they aren’t in school and others are waiting on their unemployment check,” said Dent. “I would expect the governor to take another look at this issue, and soon.”

Legislation has been introduced, House Bill 1321 and the companion bill Senate Bill 5114, that would immediately move the entire state to Phase 2 of the governor’s “Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery” plan. Both versions of the bill have bipartisan support.

Click here to read the letter.


Washington State House Republican Communications