Inslee: Special session likely because of virus outbreak

State Legislature isn’t scheduled to return until next January but may be called back

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — The state Legislature may be called back for a special session because of the coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday.

The Legislature isn’t scheduled to return until next January, but Inslee said it was probable legislators may need to return, “given the extent of the economic damage that we have suffered.”

He said the timing of that is uncertain, but he said he was ready to call the Legislature back early if more aggressive steps for spending were needed before the end of the year.

He said the state had already dispersed $120 million from $200 million the Legislature allocated to COVID-19 response before it adjourned last month.

Also this week, two more tribal casinos in the state announced they are closing.

The Kalispel Tribe announced its Northern Quest casino in the Spokane suburb of Airway Heights will be closed for two weeks.

The Spokane Tribe also closed its casino in Airway Heights.

On the North Olympic Peninsula, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and the Lower Elwha closed their casinos in March.

The closures are temporary to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Also closed are casinos owned by the Suquamish, Puyallup, Tulalip, Muckleshoot, Lummi, Cowlitz and Yakama tribes.

As sovereign nations, the tribes are not bound by the stay-at-home order from Inslee, who has shut down schools, bars and restaurants in the state and limited the size of public gatherings.

Tribal officials said they took the measures to help minimize the outbreak.

On Tuesday, while many workers are doing their jobs from home, the U.S. Department of Energy said most of the 11,000 employees at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the largest single employer in eastern Washington, also are working from home because of the pandemic.

About 10 to 15 percent of Hanford’s workforce is working on the sprawling site that contains the nation’s largest quantity of radioactive waste left over from the production of nuclear weapons.

Another 60 percent are working from home or otherwise telecommuting at the site near Richland, the agency said.

The rest are off work but continue to be paid, the agency said. The site went to this “essential mission-critical operations posture” in late March and it continues this week, the agency said.

Hanford was established during the Manhattan Project in World War II. The site made the plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.

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