A look at the laws that allow the state to issue a face mask mandate
SPOKANE, Wash.— You’ll need a face mask on before heading into any business in Washington.
Many people have said the state is violating their rights with this mandate, so 4 News Now dug into some state laws to see if that was true.
It appears that as long as lives are at stake, like they are with COVID-19, then these mandates are constitutional, according to state law. Governor Inslee also said anybody can file a lawsuit against the orders, but he’s confident the courts will side with the state.
“We have the authority to save ourselves in Washington,” Inslee said.
Secretary of Health John Wiesman is the one who issued this face mask mandate for Washington.
Here’s the state law which allows it.
Some people have also said Governor Inslee’s mandates are unconstitutional because his emergency powers expired after 30 days.
But, that is only for statutory waivers, which does not apply here.
If this were for a statutory waiver, then it would be up to the “four corners” of the legislature to extend his powers. The public health orders in this pandemic, such as the mask mandate, were not issued under that waiver.
The Governor’s Office says that confusion came from misinformation spread online.
“This is something that can save lives,” Inslee said about the face mask mandate. There is nothing in the constitution that says people should die of a virus.”
And here’s a closer look at another reason why public health orders from Inslee are protected by state law.
Specifically under this part of the state law– RCW 43.06.220 Section H.
Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs has an extensive history working in law, and he said he can’t picture any court overturning these orders.
He said mandates like the mask one are constitutional because it is a matter of life or death for thousands of people in the community.
As long as the orders preserve and maintain life or health, then it is considered OK.
4 News Now tried reaching out to several Washington lawmakers in both parties, but J.T. Wilcox, Bob McCaslin and Paul Ryan have not returned our calls yet.
Inslee pointed out that several governors across the U.S. have issued similar orders, and courts have not struck those decisions down either.
“In potentially catastrophic pandemics, the governor can and should act,” Inslee said. “It is as much a responsibility as it is a privilege.
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