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Spokane judge backs Gov. Inslee's COVID-19 emergency order

Slidewaters, a water park in Chelan County that remained open in violation of the governor’s order, filed a lawsuit against Inslee on June 8.

SPOKANE, Wash. — A federal judge in Spokane dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging the legality of Governor Jay Inslee’s coronavirus emergency declaration.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, Judge Thomas Rice wrote that the governor’s emergency power “clearly encompasses an outbreak of a pandemic disease.”

Judge Rice also ruled the Department of Labor and Industries legally exercised its authority to develop rules to enforce the governor’s proclamation.

"Even if Plaintiff has identified a constitutionally protect interest upon which the emergency proclamation infringes, the infringement is justified by the ongoing public health emergency caused by COVID-19,” Judge Rice wrote. “That Plaintiff and a representative of the local health district believe that Plaintiff can operate its business in a way that minimizes the spread of COVID-19 does not establish that the Governor's emergency proclamation is unreasonable, overly broad, or unequally applied...It is not the Court's role to second-guess the reasoned public health decisions of other branches of government."

Slidewaters, a water park in Chelan County, remained open in violation of the governor’s order, according to a press release. The park filed a lawsuit against Inslee and L&I on June 8.

According to the press release, the judge previously rejected the water park’s motion for a temporary restraining order against state enforcement of the emergency proclamations.

Judge Rice remanded the state’s counter claim against the water park to Chelan County Superior Court. The state is seeking a declaratory judgement that Slidewaters’ conduct violates the emergency proclamation and an order prohibiting them from operating. The state is also seeking to recoup costs and attorney fees.

"I would like to thank the Attorney General's Office for all of their work on this case," Inslee said in a press release. "This unequivocal ruling on the merits was made possible by their efforts."

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