Senate Dems defeat move to get restaurants, small business back to work

After rebuff in committee, Wilson, Republicans take fight to Senate floor

OLYMPIA – Majority Democrats in the state Senate shot down an effort to reopen the state’s restaurants and other small businesses Wednesday evening, ending a day of work by Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, and others to force a decision.

“That ended it for today, but we’re going to keep up the pressure to get our state back to work,” said Wilson, ranking Republican on the Senate State Government and Elections Committee. “This is one issue the state can’t dodge.”

All members of the Senate Republican Caucus supported a motion that would have brought Senate Bill 5114 to the Senate floor, but the motion was defeated by Democrats 27-22.

The bipartisan measure would move the entire state to “Phase 2” of its COVID lockdown plan, allowing restaurants to resume indoor dining, permitting gyms and entertainment venues to reopen, and relaxing restrictions on gatherings. Social distancing guidelines would be maintained.

Wilson launched the effort Wednesday morning with a motion to force a vote in the Senate State Government and Elections Committee. That motion also was defeated by Senate Democrats.

“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and I don’t think it would be if it were placed squarely before the Senate for a vote,” Wilson said. “No one can remember an outpouring of public support as large as the one we saw last week when we held a hearing on the bill. We had more than 1,600 people sign in for the hearing, 93 percent in support.

“You’d think Olympia would pay attention. But if that wasn’t enough, I hope our procedural motions Wednesday did the trick.”