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    E-news: Join me for a virtual BBQ with King Co Assessor John Wilson

E-news: Join me for a virtual BBQ with King Co Assessor John Wilson

September 17th, 2020|

Dear Neighbors,

Please join me on Thursday, September 24, from 2-3 pm, for my annual community BBQ! This year, we will be joined by a special guest, King County Assessor John Wilson.

Due to COVID-19, the annual get-together will be conducted virtually this year. So make a plate of your favorite fixin’s and join us as we come together to discuss property taxes! Learn about deferments and exemptions – bring your questions!

RSVP at http://bit.ly/SenDhingra or contact ashley.jackson@leg.wa.gov with questions.

I hope to see you on Thursday!

Sincerely yours,

Sen. Manka Dhingra
45th Legislative District
Deputy Majority Leader

E-news: Youth criminal justice forum; mask up, WA

June 25th, 2020|

Dear Neighbors,

Over the past weeks, I have attended protests, marches, and rallies all over our district and King County, while wearing my mask and practicing social distancing. I have met with community members impacted by police violence as well as with law enforcement officers, and I have responded to so many of you who have reached out to me. I am listening to the stories, tracking data, and working with my colleagues to craft legislation that reflects your voices. I have been especially inspired and impressed by the sheer volume of young people who have reached out to me, who are standing up for justice, and who are demanding change. I want to continue the conversation with the young people of our district and would like to invite you to attend a youth town hall on criminal justice reform. It will be over Zoom, at 2 pm on July 14. You can sign up here.


King County moves to Phase 2

In Phase 2, social gatherings may be held with five or fewer people outside your household. Restaurants can reopen at less than 50% capacity, and retailers at less than 30% capacity. Businesses must follow state guidelines to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers. These include social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing cloth masks. You can read more about Phase 2 here, and you can find the guidelines for businesses and employees here.

Mask Up, Washington

Despite the progress we have made, we are seeing a worrisome uptick in coronavirus cases across Washington. Recent research suggests that one of the best ways to reduce transmission is by wearing cloth face masks. The masks protect other people from getting the virus from us when we talk, cough or sneeze.

Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could still be a danger to others. Between 20% and 40% of people with COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms but can still spread the virus. Wearing masks in public places helps protect everyone you meet and is a crucial way to allow for safe reopening of economic activity.

That’s why the governor has issued a statewide mandate for mask-wearing in public. There are exemptions for people with some health conditions or disabilities and people who are deaf or hard of hearing. And there are times when you can remove your mask, like when eating at a restaurant. You also do not need to wear a mask when you are alone or only with the members of your household, or when you are outdoors and six feet from other people.

Until a vaccine or cure is developed, masks will be our best defense.

This mask rule is like the speed limits on our roads—it’s about preventing reckless behavior that can hurt others. Please do your part to protect our community.

Sincerely yours,

Sen. Manka Dhingra
45th Legislative District
Deputy Majority Leader

We have work ahead

June 4th, 2020|

Dear Neighbors,

Like you, I am heartbroken by what is going on in our country and our state. In a just world, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery would be alive today. The reality we live with is that the darker your skin color, the more likely you are to suffer violence at the hands of the police. That is not justice.

Like you, I had hoped that Washington had made progress over the last several years to make this kind of injustice less likely here. Washingtonians overwhelmingly passed Initiative 940 in 2018 to make it possible to hold police officers accountable for excessive use of force, and the Legislature unanimously passed legislation in 2019 to affirm its intent and make it more legally workable. The City of Seattle has been working with the US Department of Justice for years under a federal consent decree that has been adding accountability to their law enforcement actions.

But like you, I am horrified to see the aggressive, paramilitary response of the Seattle Police Department to the largely peaceful protests over the past few days. There is no reason for this excessive response, especially given the examples of law enforcement agencies across our state and our country who responded so much better.

I am particularly dismayed because I have worked hard to change the culture of law enforcement, away from being warriors and instead being guardians of our society.

The injustices we are seeing now are a stark reminder that we have a lot more work ahead of us.

Change comes when each and every one of us acknowledges this injustice, grieves for it, and works to dismantle the systems of oppression and racism. The peaceful protests on the Eastside and around our country are a great upwelling of that righteous grief and an important step toward real change.

Our role as elected officials is to carry their message to the halls of the Legislature and change our legal code and culture to help right those wrongs.

As vice chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee, and as the only prosecutor in the Legislature, I am committed to using my position to carrying that banner. Senate Democrats are working on potential legislation in several important areas:

  1. Prohibiting the use of chokeholds.
  2. Prohibiting law enforcement agencies in our state from accepting surplus military equipment.
  3. Requiring the use of body cameras statewide.
  4. Prohibiting law enforcement officers from covering their badge numbers while on duty.
  5. Requiring state collection of data on police use of force.
  6. Strengthening de-escalation and anti-bias training for law enforcement officers.

In the months to come, I will continue listening to communities of color and others disproportionately affected by police use of force. I will continue pushing for their voices to be heard in the halls of power and for the ideas they bring forward for change. I hope you will join me.

Sincerely yours,

Sen. Manka Dhingra
45th Legislative District
Deputy Majority Leader

E-news: Be on alert for fraudulent unemployment claims

May 20th, 2020|

Dear Neighbor,

During the pandemic, it’s important to be on alert—this crisis has led to a rash of fraudulent unemployment claims filed with the WA Employment Security Department.

Fraudsters file these claims in innocent people’s names using data they have stolen from corporate data breaches, not from the Employment Security Department. ESD paused payments for two days last week to combat this fraud.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:

  • Be aware of false websites. If you apply for unemployment benefits, use only ESD’s official website: esd.wa.gov.
  • Applying for unemployment benefits is free. ESD will never ask for a payment to process your claim.
  • Be wary of solicitors asking for your personal information online or by phone. ESD will only ask you for information through official correspondence and through your ESD eServices account. If we call you, you can ask the agents to identify themselves.

If you get a letter from ESD referencing an unemployment claim number, but you did not file a claim,

  • Report the fraud here.
  • You can also try calling 800-246-9763.

If you suspect you have been a victim of identity theft:

  • File a report with your local law enforcement.
  • Report the fraud to the IRS.
  • Use the resources at IdentityTheft.gov.

Request free credit reports via AnnualCreditReport.com and review them for other frauds.

Stay safe and take care.

Sincerely yours,

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    E-News: COVID-19 Resources & Telephone Town Hall with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene

E-News: COVID-19 Resources & Telephone Town Hall with Congresswoman Suzan DelBene

May 1st, 2020|

Dear Neighbor,

Many constituents have been asking questions about the COVID-19 pandemic and our state’s response. We are working hard to contain the pandemic, preserve public health, and get our economy back on track.

Telephone Town Hall

To hear answers to your questions, please join me, along with Reps. Roger Goodman and Larry Springer, on Wednesday, May 6, at 6 p.m., for a telephone town hall. We will be joined by Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and Ingrid Ulrey of Public Health — Seattle & King County.

Our automated system will call out to landlines in the district. All you have to do is accept the call and press *3 to ask questions. To ensure you are called, you can sign up here.

If you do not receive the call, you can still participate by dialing 877-229-8493 and using ID code 116292, or by going to this website.

A Quick Guide to Coronavirus Resources

The Washington State Coronavirus Response Page has links to resources for families, businesses, workers, and more. State webpages also provide information about help with taxes and health care. The state provides multilingual COVID-19 fact sheets and lists resources available for immigrant communities.

You can find countywide information at King County Public Health. In addition, county webpages provide information about emergency food access and equity and social justice resources. The United Way of King County and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce have additional lists of resources for people and businesses.

Eastside resources can be found at Eastside for All and (re) Startup425Cities and local groups offer even more specific information at the following links:

45th District cities

Neighboring cities

In addition, federal information and assistance are available through U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBeneAdam Smith, and Kim Schrier, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The federal CARES Act included $17 billion for loan forgiveness for nonprofits and small businesses for certain types of loans. It also included $349 billion to create the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides subsidized loans of up to $10 million to nonprofits and small businesses with fewer than 500 employees to cover payroll, rent, mortgage and utility costs.

The Small Business Disaster Loan Program provides low-interest loans of up to $2 million to small businesses and nonprofits. And the Small Business Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses that 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 Disaster Loan.

Finally, you can always contact my office using the information below.

Sincerely yours,

Manka Dhingra

E-News: Resources for people affected by the coronavirus

March 30th, 2020|

Dear Neighbor,

During this time of hardships, it is so important for us to come together as a community and look out for one another. And I’m hearing so many stories of friends and family members and neighbors doing just that—while keeping a safe six feet apart!

With that in mind, I would like to send you a list of some resources that might be helpful to you or people you know. And remember, the latest information about the coronavirus pandemic and what we can all be doing to keep safe and healthy will always be at coronavirus.wa.gov.

Medical resources

The Department of Health’s coronavirus resource page has answers to questions about your health or the health of a family member. Here you can find information on testing, tips to stay healthy and much more.

You can also call the DOH coronavirus hotline at 1-800-525-0127 (press #) or email them at doh.information@doh.wa.gov.

Educational resources 

Your kids are home with time on their hands. What to do?

Fortunately, our state school superintendent has a fantastic list of resources on their website.

From virtual tours of historical sites and museums to interactive math puzzles—whatever your children are interested in and would be learning in school, you can find it on their site.

Childcare resources

Parents should try to keep their children home, but this isn’t always possible, especially for moms and dads on the front line of the outbreak.

For those parents that need childcare, and for childcare providers that are open during this crisis, here are some guidelines to help keep your facility clean and, most importantly, the kids in your care healthy.

The Department of Children, Youth & Families also has information on child care you can find here.

Resources for businesses

If you’re a small business owner who has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the state has resources to help. Earlier this month, the Legislature passed $200 million funding for the coronavirus response, with $25 million allocated directly to help businesses that have been financially impacted.

The state Department of Employment Security provides help for workers whose hours are cut and businesses worried about having to lay off their employees.
The state Department of Revenue can provide tax deferrals.
The federal Small Business Administration has opened applications for low interest U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

You can find more information here. You can find this information and more at the state coronavirus response website linked to at the start of this newsletter. It is critical that our small businesses, the backbone of our community, survive this time and come out strong on the other side.

How you can help

This is a tumultuous and unpredictable time, and many of you have reached out asking what you can do to help beyond staying home and practicing social distancing.

This link has a variety of ways you can help those fighting the spread of the coronavirus. Here you can find a list of items the state needs to aid in the fight. You can also find ways to donate blood, volunteer your time and help support small businesses.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy

On Monday evening March 23, Governor Inslee signed a two-week “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation, similar to orders you may have heard about in other states. This decision is essential to our ability to control the virus and prevent the number of cases from overwhelming our healthcare system. For reference, here’s a reminder of what the order means:

Stay Home, Stay Healthy order

Sincerely yours,

Manka Dhingra

E-News: Coronavirus – state action to help

March 12th, 2020|

Dear Neighbors,

The Legislature is taking this health crisis extremely seriously. We have now appropriated $200 million to fund our state’s response, including monitoring, testing and support for local health departments.

We have also acted to

  • ensure that people receiving unemployment insurance can continue to do so even if they can’t meet the work search requirement due to quarantine
  • support businesses that rehire employees who had to go on unemployment insurance because of the coronavirus emergency
  • reimburse nursing homes that aid in the coronavirus response
  • allow school employees to maintain health insurance eligibility for the rest of the school year even if they come up short of required work hours because of the coronavirus state of emergency

The federal government has passed an $8.3 billion coronavirus response plan. Of that, $11.2 million came immediately came to Washington state for public health responses. Our congressional leaders are hard at work negotiating a supplemental bill that is intended to include additional Medicaid funding, housing support, and SNAP benefits.

To minimize public health risk, Governor Inslee has prohibited most large events of more than 250 people in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, and Public Health — Seattle & King County has issued health and safety guidelines that must be followed by the organizers of smaller public gatherings.

State agencies have announced measures to help people and businesses whose lives are disrupted. The governor’s office has assembled a central list of resources here. Below are some of the most important changes that can help you.

Worker and employer assistance

  • If an employer temporarily shuts down operations because of coronavirus, workers may be eligible for unemployment benefits and the employer may receive relief of benefit costs.
  • If workers are exposed to coronavirus and asked to isolate or quarantine by a doctor or health official, they may receive unemployment benefits while they are temporarily away from work. A bill passed recently by the Legislature waives the requirement that people in this situation must be actively searching for work.

Health care coverage 

  • In response to the spread of coronavirus, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has opened a special enrollment period for health insurance through April 8. You can call 1-855-923-4633 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Insurance assistance 

  • The Insurance Commissioner has required all insurance plans to cover coronavirus tests with no cost-sharing and no prior authorization requirement for people who meet the CDC criteria for testing.
  • He has also required insurance plans to allow enrollees to refill their prescriptions early one time in order to maintain an adequate supply.

School updates

The governor has ordered all King County public and private schools to close through April 26th. You can find further information from the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction here.

Protect your health and your loved ones

Remember, if someone you know has a fever and non-acute respiratory distress, they should call their doctor. Symptoms to watch for are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

The best preparations are to prevent infection with simple yet effective actions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (singing happy birthday twice).
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow, sleeve or tissue (not your hands).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Bump elbows with friends rather than giving hugs or handshakes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Use hand sanitizers when unable to wash your hands.

If you have symptoms and do not have a doctor to call, you can call the King County coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977 or the Washington State Department of Health call center at 1-800-525-0127.

Sincerely yours,

E-News: Coronavirus update and information

March 5th, 2020|

Dear Neighbors,

I wanted to update you with information that the Washington State Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle & King County are providing about how you can keep yourselves and your loved ones healthy and help slow the spread of coronavirus.

If you have a fever and respiratory distress, call your doctor – don’t go to the clinic or hospital. A doctor will make an assessment about next steps and contact public health officials if a test is needed.

If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of coronavirus but don’t have a doctor to call, stay home and contact the King County novel coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977.

Symptoms to watch for:

  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath

The best way to prevent infection is with a few simple yet effective actions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. (Singing the happy birthday song twice.)
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow, sleeve or tissue.
  • Bump elbows with friends rather than hugs or handshakes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as doorknobs, tabletops, and kitchen areas.
  • Use hand sanitizers when unable to wash your hands.

The Washington State Department of Health has also established a call center to address questions. Given the high call volume, it is best to research general questions online if you can. If you need advice about what to do if you have symptoms, you can call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

You can stay informed at these pages:

You can find information about how the situation affects school closures here.

Thank you to the first responders from the Kirkland Fire Department who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. To those who responded, including the more than two dozen who are quarantined, you have our deepest gratitude.

We are fortunate to have an excellent and expert public health system in King County and Washington state that is fully mobilized to slow the spread of the virus and treat those who are affected. We are in good hands.

What we are doing in Olympia

The Senate passed an operating budget last week that dramatically increased funding for coronavirus response with an additional $10 million for public health.

Much more funding is on the way. New legislation to transfer $100 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund into the state disaster response account has passed the House, and we passed it the Senate today (HB 2965).

E-News: A New Session Begins

January 13th, 2020|

Dear Neighbors,

Happy New Year! With the beginning of another year comes another legislative session, and we are ready to go. I have prefiled 12 bills on issues from preventing identity theft to protecting survivors of crime to fighting the opioid epidemic. You can find a list of all my bills for this biennium here. Here are some highlights.

Keeping Washingtonians Safe

There are certain situations in which some people simply should not have access to deadly weapons. That includes people who are in crisis and pose a clear danger to themselves or others. It includes people with a history of violence who are found incompetent to stand trial when charged with a crime or those who are guilty of domestic violence harassment. The Legislature and the people of Washington have passed laws in recent years to enact these changes. The research shows that these laws save lives.

That’s why I’m sponsoring SB 6163 to give judges the discretion to restrict the use of firearms by individuals charged with the felony of driving under the influence. A recent study by UC Davis Violence Prevention Program found that for handgun owners, a prior DUI conviction is an indicator of future arrest for violent offense including murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—and a 300 percent increase in future risk of domestic violence arrest.

Menstrual Hygiene Products in Schools

Without menstrual products, nearly 1 in 5 American girls have either left school early or missed school entirely. When I visited their class, some extraordinary students from Mr. Dawson’s AP Government and Politics class at Lake Washington High School proposed a bill that would provide free feminine-hygiene products in middle and high schools across our state. I’m proud to sponsor that bill, SB 6073, this session.

More to Come

The prefiled bills are only a part of what I’m working on this year. Since the 2019 session ended, I have been listening to community members, advocates, and experts about the most pressing problems facing Washington, and I will be sponsoring legislation to tackle many more. This includes reforming our Involuntary Treatment Act, providing safe harbor for children who are survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, and improving the child support payment system.

How to Become a Senate Page

We still have some slots for Senate pages this legislative session! During each week of the session, students from across Washington state come to Olympia to serve as pages.

Pages spend a portion of each day assisting with the Legislature’s work and a portion attending Page School. Both provide the opportunity to learn about the role of the Legislature, its process and its participants. For the Monday-through-Friday work week they serve, pages are paid $35 per day. Pages do not work overtime or on weekends, regardless of the Senate’s work schedule.

For more information about the page program, or to download an application, click here.

Stay in Touch

We cannot do our work in Olympia without hearing from you. We are eager to hear your concerns and hopes for our state. Please follow me on Facebook to stay up to date on our work and, most importantly, feel free to reach out anytime. The more we hear from you, the better your Legislature can reflect our shared values and goals.