Governor Jay Inslee’s office has been bombarded this week with emails and phone calls from citizens urging him to stop the Legislature’s inexcusable attempt to set itself above the public records law.
That kind of encouragement from constituents should make the decision an easy one.
However, on Monday, Inslee told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that while he thought Senate Bill 6617 was a “bad idea,” he could not block it because it was approved with a veto-proof majority.
“So I don’t have control at the moment,” he said.
Actually, he does.
His response is puzzling considering that two years ago Inslee made state history by vetoing 27 bills in a single night.
It wasn’t that he opposed the bills. In fact, there were several he had backed personally and had requested the Legislature approve.
But Inslee vetoed them to make a statement.
At the time, he was frustrated the Legislature once again was headed for an overtime session. Inslee told lawmakers he would veto every bill on his desk if they could not agree on a supplemental budget before the session deadline.
Lawmakers shrugged the threat off and continued with their negotiating.
But Inslee wasn’t bluffing. He followed through with his ultimatum and vetoed a record number of bills all at once.
Eventually, legislators agreed on a budget and set to work overriding Inslee’s vetoes bill by bill.
So we have to ask: If the governor could use his veto power to make a statement two years ago, why can’t he do it again — especially when so many people are counting on him to do just that?
His answer to Hayes doesn’t fly.
Inslee met with the MSNBC journalist after attending a gathering of the National Governors Association in Washington, D.C.
The governors met with President Donald Trump Monday, and Inslee told Trump he recommended “less tweeting” and “more listening” to teachers who don’t want to carry a firearm in the classroom. It was a bold moment.
We would like to see him stand up to the Legislature with the same confidence he demonstrated at the White House. As of this writing, that hasn’t happened yet.
In the wake of that Q&A with the president, Hayes chatted with Inslee and put him on the spot about whether he would veto the Legislature’s public records bill.
It was written in secret, introduced and rammed through both chambers within 48 hours last week. There were no public hearings, only a quickly scheduled comment period during a work session.
But the public is speaking up now.
Inslee’s staff said on Tuesday they received 1,800 calls and about 4,000 emails, almost all in opposition to the legislation, according to KOMO News. This public outrage should not be ignored.
A veto by Inslee would send the bill back to the Legislature where lawmakers would have the chance to do the right thing and vote it down.
The governor has used his veto power to make a statement before. He should do so again.