FRANKLIN COUNTY, WA (KPTV) - As rural counties in Oregon are clamoring to get back to business in the midst of the governor's stay at home order, a county in Washington state has taken action.
Commissioners in Franklin County, which is near Pasco, voted Tuesday to end the county's recognition of Gov. Jay Inslee's stay at home order, and to allow all businesses that want to resume activities to open.
"We're not telling all businesses you have to go open up," Clint Didier, District 3 Commissioner, said. "We don't want that. We don't want to be the strong-handed government that's telling you what you have to do. We're giving them the opportunity if that's what they want to do they can."
Didier and the two other commissioners on the board voted unanimously on his motion to resume business activity. Didier said he's become convinced the governor's extension of his emergency declaration past 30 days was political overreach.
"I think this should have been a county on county basis," Didier said. "We can monitor. Everybody's doing the social distancing. A lot of people are wearing masks. We can abide by that."
Gov. Inslee has pushed back against counties making their own determinations, and addressed the issue again in a briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
"Our stay home stay healthy order is the law of the state of Washington and it will remain the law of the state of Washington until we make a further decision, which will be based on data and science," Inslee said.
In Oregon, counties east of the Cascades have had conversations with Gov. Kate Brown about potentially re-opening.
Harney County Judge Pete Runnels sent a letter to Gov. Brown on April 13 asking that the county be allowed to serve as a "pilot project" for the state, with its businesses struggling to stay afloat under the stay at home order.
"The purpose is not to open up and attract people from other communities here to shop, do whatever," Runnels said. "The purpose is just local self-survival."
Runnels said he and other county leaders had a productive conversation with the governor this week, but that no date had been set as a target to open the county back up.
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