Tri-Cities lawmakers want to resume in-person meetings | News |

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KENNEWICK — As more lawmakers push for the reopening of Benton and Franklin Counties, the three-city management agencies are exploring options for resuming face-to-face meetings.

Franklin County Commissioner Clint Didier, who opposed the current statewide COVID-19 restrictions, announced last week that it is time for the three-person committee to meet in court.

The committee actually started meeting at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and only the county chief Keith Johnson met in a small conference room.

Didier said that Governor Jay Inslee's order has changed so that they can attend meetings in person while still maintaining social distancing rules.

Didier said: "So, I look forward to becoming chairman next week and invite two commissioners because we can now meet in the Franklin County conference hall, so we can exchange distance." He was at the January 5th meeting. Elected as chairman of the board of directors.

When the committee’s legal counsel, Prosecutor Shawn Sant, warned that the rules of business meetings might not change until at least January 18, Didier pointed out that Pasco Mayor Sol Martin Saul Martinez (Saul Martinez) is in the parliament chamber during their virtual meeting.

However, the "Healthy Washington-Recovery Roadmap" released by Inslee last week stated that public meetings are not yet open for in-person attendance. After Pasco and the Franklin County Council met, they worked out a recovery plan.

Didier insisted on joining Johnson to enter the court on Tuesday, January 5, and asked Santer to prepare a written legal opinion on the issue for the board of directors.

Santer said they need to strike a balance between the right to attend and the current statewide statement, and will work with the county administration to implement the statement in due course.

Commissioner Brad Peck added that participants are still required to wear a mask at close range, otherwise, if they choose not to wear a mask or get exempt, they should connect to the meeting remotely.

Didier said he had raised the issue after watching the Pasco City Council meeting on January 4.

At that meeting, Deputy Mayor Adam Lincoln asked the council members if they would be interested in returning to the meeting in person. He said this will bring some warnings, such as a smaller footprint to ensure that the distance between each participant is at least 6 feet, appropriate personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer that everyone can use.

Lincoln also mentioned that Pasco will have to designate overflow space for those who want to attend the meeting in person, but to find the 15 already occupied auditoriums.

Attendance was limited to Martinez, city manager Dave Zabell (a staff member and city communication planning manager responsible for live recording).

___(C) 2021 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Washington) to visit the Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Washington)

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