A fake vax card could land you in jail if this bill passes

Here’s what’s happening on Day 15 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

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2022 Washington Legislature, Day 15 of 60

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, Jan. 24 — It’s Monday. Year 3 of the COVID-19 pandemic is off to a fast start.

• This morning lawmakers discussed making it a crime to use or sell fake vaccination cards. A Senate panel held a hearing on Democratic Sen. Jesse Salomon’s bill to make it a misdemeanor to use a false COVID-19 vaccination document where such proof is needed, like a restaurant. Selling fakes would be a felony with up to five years behind bars.

• Prisons are under siege from the virus. Work release facilities, too. Check out this latest bulletin from the Department of Corrections. Across the system, around 60% of incarcerated individuals were either in medical isolation or quarantine Friday. And that is with 81% of them vaccinated. It seems worse than what my colleagues and I reported a week ago.

• Washington National Guard is deployed at several super-stressed hospitals around the state, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. Last week only one ICU bed was unoccupied in Snohomish County.

• Nurses are wiped out. Lawmakers are pondering their pleas for limits as to how many patients they are assigned and other workplace rules. The House labor committee could vote Wednesday on a bill to impose new standards.

• Good news: Free COVID tests are now available from the feds and the state. How quickly they arrive at your door will vary, however. Masks will start to be available, too, probably this week.

Finally, how did folks cope the past two years? Read some of the personal, funny and heartwarming insights shared with The Daily Herald.

It might help you get through these next 12 months.

Ferguson weighs in on use of force

Democratic Reps. Jesse Johnson and Roger Goodman crafted House Bill 1310, the new law setting limits on the use of force by police. Cops say it’s impeded their day-to-day enforcement abilities and it’s led to officers to hesitate or refuse to assist in situations where they might be asked to physically intercede to help a person in crisis get treatment.

With such concerns in mind, Goodman and Johnson asked Attorney General Bob Ferguson for his take.

In a partial answer delivered last week, Ferguson said the Legislature should clear things up.

“We begin by emphasizing that the answers to all of your questions are extremely difficult,” Ferguson wrote. “Reasonable minds disagree about the correct legal conclusions. In light of this uncertainty, for the following reasons we strongly urge the Legislature to clarify its intent regarding these important questions.”

Ferguson needs clarity, as well. Under the same law, he’s supposed to publish model policies on use of force and de-escalation tactics to guide law enforcement agencies. His deadline is July 1.

Weekly Spin

A reminder, House and Senate Democratic leaders chat with reporters at 2:45 p.m. today. Watch on TVW.

Republicans will hold their weekly confab at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. TVW will carry it live.

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