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    E News: Help for Small Businesses & Workers Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

E News: Help for Small Businesses & Workers Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

April 2nd, 2020|

Help for Small Businesses & Workers Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

Dear friends and neighbors,

We all recognize that the COVID-19 crisis presents a historic challenge with profound implications for all Washingtonians and our communities.

In addition to the heartbreaking pain of so many lives lost across our country, the devastation to our economy will be far-reaching. To help combat that damage, I wanted to share information below about resources available to support small businesses in our community.

One of the most important measures from last week’s federal $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is the Paycheck Protection Program. It helps non-profits and small businesses (including sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed persons) cover payroll, rent, mortgage and utility costs.

More details are available below, but I wanted to note that the program application window opens tomorrow, April 3, and that funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Millions are estimated to be eligible, so it’s important that Washingtonians apply as soon as possible to ensure that we receive our share of federal support before funds are gone.

If you’re a small business owner or a gig worker, please visit the Small Business Administration’s website, this Treasury Department fact-sheet and this FAQ to see if you’re eligible.

Please also review the list of additional supports below to see whether you qualify.

I’m deeply grateful at how we have come together under Gov. Inslee’s leadership to slow the spread of COVID-19. I’m also humbled by the efforts of our health care workers, first responders, grocery workers and delivery drivers, and everyone else putting themselves at risk on the frontlines.

This crisis will take a terrible toll, but we will pass through it and emerge stronger, in the same way we have weathered every past crisis – together as Washingtonians.

Please take care of yourselves and one another, and please stay safe.

Your partner in service,

* * *

Resource pages

Small Business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

A $349 billion SBA-administered loan and loan forgiveness program intended to help organizations keep employees on payroll between now and the end of June 2020.

  • Payroll, rent, mortgage and utility costs may be covered for non-profits and small businesses (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed).
  • Loans up to $10 million (based on prior 8 weeks of average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount).
  • Payments on principal and interest are deferred for six months.
  • Loan forgiveness if the recipient keeps all employees on payroll for eight weeks.

Small Business Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) Program and Loan Advance

The program provides targeted, low-interest loans of up to $2 million to small businesses and non-profits. The CARES Act allocated $10 billion to provide $10,000 advances to applicants.

Small Business Debt Relief Program

The CARES Act included $17 billion for six months of loan forgiveness for non-profits and small businesses that currently have SBA 504 or 7(a) loans, as well as forgiveness for any similar loans approved, closed or funded before Sept. 27, 2020.

Small Business Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program 

Allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 to bridge the gap while waiting for a decision and disbursement on a direct Economic Injury Disaster loan (above).

Taxes

  • Both the federal Internal Revenue Service and the Washington Department of Revenue are providing extensions on taxes and waivers of penalties.
  • King County has extended the first-half property tax deadline for individual residential and commercial taxpayers who pay themselves, rather than through their lender, to June 1.
  • The City of Seattle is also delaying B&O taxes.

Washington State Department of Commerce Programs

Commerce will shortly launch an Emergency Grant Program to help small businesses pay rent or cover other costs until other assistance kicks in. Up to $5 million will be available in awards of up to $10,000. When active, information will be at this website. Subject to change, grantees are expected to be those in business one year or more and having 1-10 employees.

Washington State Employment Security Department Programs

  • Reduced hours: SharedWork, an alternative to layoffs, allows employers to reduce hours and let their employees collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.
  • Temporary shutdowns and layoffs: Employers who temporarily shut down and put their employees on standby (up to 12 weeks) can get relief of some benefit charges.

Local Government & Private Sector Efforts

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    E News: Important Information on Assistance Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak

E News: Important Information on Assistance Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak

March 17th, 2020|

Important Information on Assistance Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak

Dear friends and neighbors,

It’s clear that the new coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, presents an unprecedented challenge. I am committed to doing my best to help you and your family get through this crisis.

That includes providing resources on measures to help people and businesses whose lives are disrupted. Below, you can find information on financial help available in Washington; how to file for unemployment or workers’ compensation benefits; help with paying utilities, rent and mortgages; issues with insurance; food assistance; and much more.

Washington is committed to a non-political, non-partisan and fully science-driven decision-making process. We are making decisions based on data, evidence and science-based information in order to protect the health and wellness of our residents.

We all recognize that this crisis presents a historic change in our normal routine with many implications. Our economy – as well as each one of us, personally – is likely to experience profound consequences.

Each generation faces its own unique challenges. This is our time to come together as a community. I invite and welcome your ideas, thoughts and suggestions, as constituents, on how we can more effectively do that to manage this crisis. I will share your suggestions as appropriate with our state’s front-line response team and other public and private sector officials.

Moreover, while government, business and community leadership is central to this response, every one of us holds the true power of action. We each have a public and moral obligation to care for ourselves and others by 1) avoiding gatherings and maintaining social distance, and 2) maintaining rigorous standards of hygiene.

You will literally save lives by following those guidelines.

Please take care of yourselves and one another, and please stay safe.

Your partner in service,

* * *

Federal, state and local agencies have announced measures to help people and businesses whose lives are disrupted. You can find some of the most important measures below, as well as on the state’s Coronavirus Response website.

* * *

Employee Assistance

If you are temporarily out of work, Washington’s Employment Security Department provides support services.

If you have lost your job due to coronavirus or have had to take time off to self-quarantine or care for a sick relative (and you don’t receive paid sick time from work), apply for unemployment benefits.

If your job has brought you into direct contact with someone with coronavirus (e.g. you are a first responder or a health care worker) and you have become ill or are required to quarantine, file for workers’ compensation benefits.

* * *

Consumer Resources

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has developed a list of financial resources for consumers impacted by coronavirus. This list will expand as more resources become available.

Health Care Coverage

If you are uninsured, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has opened a special enrollment period through April 8. Call between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 1-855-627-9604.

Trouble Paying Rent or Mortgage

If you can’t pay, contact your lender or landlord immediately. Help includes:

Student Loan Deferment

If you need help with your student loans, you may be able to temporarily suspend payments by applying for a deferment or forbearance from the U.S. Department of Education.

Paying Utilities

If you need help paying your utility bills, contact your service provider immediately.

Food Assistance

If you’re looking for help feeding yourself or your family, visit the Food Lifeline website to find a partner food bank, food pantry or hot meal program in your neighborhood. This food is free and available to you, even if you don’t qualify for SNAP or EBT.

Seattle Public Schools is serving lunch for all SPS students at certain locations from Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you’re currently enrolled in certain City of Seattle-supported child care programs or food assistance programs, you may be eligible for an $800 voucher to purchase food, cleaning supplies and other household goods.

Insurance Issues

Visit the website of the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) for insurance-related resources and information for consumers. The OIC has required all insurance plans to cover coronavirus tests with no cost-sharing and no prior authorization requirement for anyone who meets the CDC criteria for testing. The OIC also has required insurance plans to allow enrollees to refill prescriptions early, one time, in order to maintain an adequate supply.

* * *

Business Assistance

  • The federal Small Business Administration is providing low-interest loans of up to $2 million to help with operating expenses
  • The Washington State Department of Revenue can provide extensions on taxes or waive penalties
  • For businesses in Seattle, the City of Seattle has delayed B&O taxes for small business and established a small business stabilization fund to provide grants of up to $10,000

* * *

Additional Resources

* * *

Legislative Response

Prior to adjourning our constitutional 60-day session, the Legislature took bipartisan action to pass HB 2965, dedicating $200 million to our state’s coronavirus response. The bill also:

  • Includes language to ensure people can receive unemployment insurance even if they can’t meet the work search requirement due to quarantine or isolation, and mitigates costs to businesses due to increased numbers of workers receiving unemployment insurance
  • Gives the State Board of Education flexibility to address graduation requirements for the class of 2020
  • Offers reimbursement to nursing homes that aid in coronavirus response

The Legislature also amended SB 6189, which clarifies eligibility for school employees’ benefits board coverage, to ensure that school employees can maintain health insurance eligibility for the remainder of the school year, even if they come up short of required work hours.

Additionally, the federal government has passed an $8.3 billion coronavirus response plan, although it remains to be seen how much of that money is destined for our state’s response efforts.

* * *

Protect Your Health & Your Loved Ones

If someone you know has a fever and respiratory distress, they should call their doctor – not go to the clinic or hospital. Symptoms to watch for include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The best preparation is to prevent the spread of infection with simple yet effective actions:

  • Practice social distancing: stay away from gatherings and keep a distance of 6 feet – about one body length – away from other people
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice)
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow, sleeve or a tissue (not your hands)
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid hugs or handshakes
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Use hand sanitizer when unable to wash your hands

If you have symptoms and do not have a doctor to call, you can call the King County Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 206-477-3977 or the Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 1-800-525-0127.

More resources are available at the website of the Washington Department of Health.

E News: 2019 Legislative Session Report

May 23rd, 2019|

Dear friend,

We finished the 2019 Washington legislative session on time and I couldn’t be more excited about our progress advancing meaningful policies that elevate the quality of life of families, children and communities across our state. Here’s an overview of our work in Olympia.

Environment, Energy, and Technology

Your Legislature had one of its most productive and successful environmental years in decades. As chair of the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology (EET) Committee, I was proud to lead on issues of vital importance, including climate action, orca protection and data privacy.

100 percent Clean Energy – I sponsored the Washington Clean Transformation Act, a historic bill moving our electric utilities completely off coal by 2025 and to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2045. It ensures that we continue to lead in the worldwide movement away from fossil fuels toward a modern system using integrated wind, hydro and solar power. It’s also the centerpiece of a comprehensive carbon emission reduction package that I partnered with Gov. Inslee to craft, and it puts Washington on track to meet the Paris climate agreement goals.

Orca Protection – Only 75 Southern Resident orcas are left in the Salish Sea, the lowest number in decades. The Senate EET Committee led on bills to aid orca and Chinook salmon recovery by improving oil transportation safety, prohibiting the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products and protecting orca habitat in Puget Sound. The operating budget increases funding for orca recovery efforts by $31 million. The capital construction budget allocates another $585 million for projects to benefit salmon and orca recovery.

Data privacy – Washington is home to some of the world’s most prominent technology companies, but we fiercely value our right to privacy. My Washington Privacy Act would advance our leadership on this issue by bringing our state’s data privacy laws into the 21st Century. Taking best practices from Europe and California, it would give Washingtonians meaningful tools to determine how their personal data is generated, collected, stored and sold. It would also provide safeguards on the use of facial recognition by companies and law enforcement. The Senate passed the bill 46-1, but it House failed to bring it to a vote. I remain committed to passing this groundbreaking policy in 2020.

Repealing the Death Penalty

I have supported legislation to repeal the death penalty each of my 10 years in the Legislature, including Senate Bill 5339 this year. I was proud the Senate passed the bill, but disappointed that it didn’t receive a vote in the House. It’s time to join the global movement away from the death penalty and I’m confident the bill will pass next year.

Education Funding

I appreciate the substantive discussion on school funding this session. Following the McCleary case, our state continues to undergo an enormous transformation in how schools are funded, from a local-centric system to a state-centric one. This transition is not easy and will require years of engaged dialogue and reexamination to ensure we do what is best for our kids.

I voted against the original McCleary bill that increased state property taxes and capped local levies, and I remain deeply uncomfortable with the state’s over-reliance on property taxes to fund education. Nevertheless, despite my concerns about lifting the levy lid, I’m pleased that we found a compromise lifting caps in Seattle Public Schools to $2.50 per $1,000 assessed value, or $3,000 per pupil. While the state should lead on funding, this will allow local districts to decide how best to fund other critical aspects of K-12 education, like nurses, librarians and counselors. We also increased special education funding by $155 million.

Behavioral Health

We significantly invested in reforming and improving Washington’s behavioral health system. The centerpiece is House Bill 1593, establishing a new innovation and integration campus at the UW School of Medicine to train the next generation of behavioral health providers and provide inpatient and outpatient services. We also appropriated $47 million to expand community behavioral health beds and services, and $92 million to ensure the stability of state hospitals.

Higher Education

In this 21st-century economy, a post-secondary credential is more important than ever, but higher education is increasingly unaffordable and inaccessible for middle class families. We addressed this head-on with the Workforce Education Investment Act, expanding need-based aid and increasing career pathways. It replaces the State Need Grant with the Washington College Grant Program, a statewide, guaranteed free college program for lower-income students. This investment is paid for by an increase in the B&O tax on companies that employ highly educated workers, including Microsoft and Amazon.

Budgets

As a member of the Ways & Means Committee, I’m proud that we put together an operating budget that truly puts people first by investing substantially in children and families. We improved our state’s behavioral health system, enhanced our foster care system, bolstered access to early learning and increased funds for housing. I pushed hard to include $3.5 million to expand Treehouse, which helps youth transition out of the foster care system. In 2018, 83 percent of Treehouse participants graduated high school within five years, compared to 49 percent of foster youth statewide. Our investment will help Treehouse continue a proven track record of supporting our most vulnerable children.

I’m also proud that we were able to pass capital construction and transportation budgets that make substantial infrastructure investments in the 36th Legislative District over the next two years.

36th District Investments

The budgets passed this year include $1.5 million for infrastructure to clean polluted storm-water runoff at both ends of the Aurora Bridge before it flows into Puget Sound, and another $700,000 to install variable, digital speed signs on both approaches to the bridge to reduce speeds and increase safety.

They also allocate $700,000 for planning on how to maintain current and future capacities of the Magnolia and Ballard bridges, including possible replacements, and $1 million to restore the site of the proposed North Elliot Bay Public Dock and Marine Transit Terminal. Other appropriations include upgrades to local schools, grants supporting the arts and public access to history, and funding for programs serving the less-fortunate, like the Ballard Food Bank, the Chief Seattle Club and Farestart.

I’m pleased that the Legislature approved my amendment adding $2.7 million in funding each biennium, starting in 2021, to the operating budget to make capital improvements to the Pacific Science Center, which has not received any meaningful public investment since it was built in the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

Contact Me

State government is more important than ever. As the federal government avoids many of the most profound and pressing issues of our time, your Legislature is elevating our civic dialogue and standing up for everyone across Washington on the environment, economy and education.

The legislative process requires ongoing input, advocacy and involvement by real people living real lives. As a husband, father, entrepreneur and citizen legislator, it’s an honor and a privilege to listen and learn from constituents in the 36th District. Every day I’m grateful for the chance to be your voice in Olympia.

I welcome the chance to continue this conversation. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at reuven.carlyle@leg.wa.gov or (360) 786-7670, or at the postal addresses listed below, with further thoughts, comments or questions.

Your partner in service,

E News: 2018 Legislative Session Report

April 2nd, 2018|

Dear friend,

The Washington State Legislature concluded our work for the 2018 session on time. Here’s a high-level update on our work in Olympia this year.

Environment & Technology

As the new chair of the Senate Energy, Environment & Technology Committee, I’m proud to lead efforts to tackle some of the most complex, difficult and important public issues facing our state.  My goal is to follow the science, data and evidence as we move forward addressing pressing issues from climate change to Puget Sound cleanup to net neutrality, Internet privacy and much more.

Carbon: As lead sponsor of sweeping carbon pricing legislation, I’m proud that we passed this unprecedented legislation through two major committees, a first in a state legislature in the country. We transformed the policy issue by working with utilities, business, environmentalists and policy thought leaders to place a price on carbon to invest in next-generation energy and mitigation of climate impacts.

Salmon: We passed legislation to protect wild salmon stocks by phasing out non-native Atlantic salmon net pens.

Net neutrality: Washington is the first state to protect net neutrality. Net neutrality is a 21st century version of the American town square and it’s our right to preserve access to the free flow of information instead of handing it over to public or private entities.

Gender Equality

We passed the Equal Pay Act, a policy of vital importance to workplace equity statewide. We also passed three bills to combat workplace sexual harassment.

We passed the Reproductive Parity Act, requiring health insurance plans that offer maternity coverage to cover contraception and abortion, and address reproductive health disparities for women.

We passed a ban on conversion therapy by requiring science and evidence-based approaches to related counseling impacting the LGBQ community.

Responsible Gun Safety

The Legislature passed modest, common sense legislation to ban bump stocks that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly and to prohibit domestic violence abusers from possessing a firearm. Unfortunately, we failed to secure a final vote on major school safety legislation (SB 6620). As a father and a legislator I am personally committed to continuing efforts to ensure our gun safety laws are particularly responsive to the needs of school safety.

Budgets

We passed our supplemental budget, which funds nearly $1B in additional public education funding, meeting the key final requirements of the McCleary education plan. We made progress in our mental health programs, assisting foster youth and more. The University of Washington and higher education received full funding of our state need grant, allowing tens of thousands of additional young people to receive state aid for college. Finally, our capital budget provides $7.8 million for Coe Elementary School to meet severe overcrowding.

Property Taxes

As a strong opponent of our local and state over-reliance on property taxes, I played a leading role in ensuring we used some of our revenue growth to lower the property tax burden in 2019 by $0.30/$1,000. This is one-time but extremely important help to reduce the impact of the property tax increases passed last year to meet the McCleary education funding plan from Olympia as well as local property tax increases passed by voters. I voted against the original property tax increase because I felt it was excessive and too burdensome on the middle class and low-income residents of our district.

Repealing the Death Penalty

After sponsoring legislation to repeal the death penaltyeach of my nine years serving in the Legislature, I was honored to partner with my Republican colleague Sen. Maureen Walsh and others across the aisle to pass a bill this year. For the first time, the bill passed out of the Senate with a strong bipartisan vote, but it failed to see action in the House of Representatives.

Vulnerable Children & Youth

The Legislature passed my bill SB 6222 to expand extended foster care eligibility. This priority bill for the foster care community allows youth transitioning into adulthood to receive housing and other key services until they are 21.

After several years of effort, “Breakfast after the Bell” finally passed the Legislature. School breakfast is linked to improved outcomes for students, including fewer discipline incidents, better attendance and better performance on standardized tests. We’re proud to move forward with this proven, cost-effective approach towards educational success.

Access to Democracy

Less than two weeks into this session, the Senate passed bills ensuring equal representation in majority minority communities (SB 6002), extending the period for voter registration (SB 6021) and increasing transparency of hidden political contributions (SB 5991). We also passed a measure allowing 16- and 17-year olds to pre-register to vote (HB 1513).

Public Records Transparency

A court ruled that the Legislature is fully subject to the Public Records Act. In attempting to clarify key aspects of the transparency issue, the Legislature faced unprecedented criticism for passing SB 6617 with an overwhelming bipartisan, supermajority vote. I was one of only seven senators to vote against the bill. The Governor ultimately vetoed the bill at the request of legislators to provide time for a more thoughtful approach to the issue next year. I believe the process was flawed and in today’s era of distrust of government we need to err on the side of openness and disclosure.

Conclusion

As the federal government struggles under the current administration and congressional leadership, state-level leadership is more important than ever. As major institutions are struggling, our ability as a citizen legislature to stand up for real people living real lives matters more than ever. Our quality of life is impacted by our work in the Legislature and your voice matters now more than ever.

Our healthy, vibrant and engaged representative democracy is alive and well here in Washington state because of you.

It’s an honor to be your voice in the Washington State Senate. As a husband, father, technology entrepreneur and citizen legislator, I work hard to represent your voice on the pressing issues of our day.

Please reach out on Twitter, Facebook, my blog or in person to connect about the issues and ideas that inspire you!

Your partner in service,

Reuven