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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Protesters call for Inslee to veto measles vaccine bill

OLYMPIA – Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, at right, speaks to a group of protesters calling for a veto on the measles vaccine bill and others they consider restricting their freedom of choice. (Ryan Blake / The Spokesman-Review)
By Ryan Blake The Spokesman-Review

OLYMPIA – An estimated 15,700 requests to veto the bill that would end the personal exemption for the measles vaccine and a variety of other legislation have flooded into Gov. Jay Inslee’s office in recent days.

Despite the complaints, Inslee is expected to sign the vaccine bill and other controversial legislation in the coming days, and has already signed others into law.

Many of the requests Friday were delivered in-person after a protest on the Capitol steps featuring citizens, activists and legislators rallying against the vaccine bill, plus those involving reproductive health and LGBTQ rights.

Often through a Russian translator, speakers said they were concerned about their freedom of choice.

Olga Fisenko, who said she was on day nine of a 10-day fast in opposition of the bills, urged the crowd to “stand boldly” against the “ungodly system.”

“How many more bills are we going to let the enemy pass?” she asked the crowd.

Among the bills being opposed is one that would prohibit discrimination regarding reproductive health care on the basis of gender identity or immigration status. It passed the Legislature on Friday.

Other bills create a commission to monitor legislation affecting LGBTQ people and require school districts to incorporate policies to protect transgender students. Both passed the Legislature this week and are expected to be signed by Inslee.

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, was among Republican legislators who addressed the crowd at various points in the protest.

“This is your choice. This is your right. Defend it like it is,” Klippert said before leading protesters in “God Bless America.”

They eventually crowded into the governor’s office, delivering requests for vetoes, but didn’t talk to Inslee.

Fisenko said she organized the rally on Facebook and claimed she was not part of an organization. One Facebook event posting referred to a One Nation Under God rally hosted by the Family Policy Institute at the same place and time.