Following a heated exchange, Battle Ground City Council on Monday rejected a proposed “medical freedom” ordinance in a 4-2 vote.
Council members Brian Munson and Shauna Walters voted in favor of the ordinance; Mayor Adrian Cortes, Deputy Mayor Phillip Johnson and council members Shane Bowman and Cherish DeRochers voted against.
DeRochers said she supports medical freedom and would have been inclined to vote for the prescription if the negative effects had not been so severe.
Bowman and Johnson were particularly critical of the ordinance and Munson for proposing it. Both accused Munson of political demagoguery and of campaigning from the podium.
“It has nothing to do with the citizens of Battle Ground,” Bowman said. “The people who elected us are paying for it, so that we can play political games from the platform. This is unacceptable.
Bowman and Johnson also aimed to have the city spend taxpayer dollars to hire an outside legal advisor and use the time of the city attorney and city staff to research the order.
The city hired Yakima’s lawyer Kirk Ehlis to review the order and provide legal advice. Ehlis said the ordinance could create legal liability for the city and individual council members who would not be covered by the city’s insurance pool.
Ehlis also said, in his opinion, that Governor Jay Inslee has the legal authority to pass warrants and those warrants have the force of law.
City attorney Christine Hayes agreed the city and council could be open to legal action if the ordinance is passed. She also said the city would have to comply with all laws to receive federal funding, which the ordinance could put at risk. In addition, the city could be fined by agencies like OSHA, which could impose fines of up to $ 14,000 per day.
“I want to see what my countrymen are willing to bet,” Johnson said of the city’s $ 44 million annual budget. “We have already spent around $ 10,000. “
Despite their votes in favor of the ordinance, Munson and Walters made little comment during the meeting.
The council will then meet at 7 p.m. on October 18. All meetings take place on Zoom.