Coronavirus resources and so long until the fall

May 8th, 2020|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This coronavirus pandemic has brought tough times for all of us—most especially those who have lost loved ones. But we have reason to be proud of what we have done. By staying home and staying safe, we have slowed the spread in our state. Now it’s time to start charting a careful path to reopening that balances public health with our economic health.

I have been encouraging the governor to open those sectors of the economy that we can do safely, particularly outdoor recreation like fishing and hunting, and construction. I’m glad to say that he has started along that path.

You can read more about the phased approach to recovery here.

Economic Assistance

Our state is ahead of the curve when it comes to helping people hit by the economic effects of the pandemic. We were the first state to deploy all three unemployment insurance benefits provided by the federal government’s emergency CARES Act, and we have put more than $1.5 billion into the pockets of Washingtonians hit with unemployment by this crisis:

  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – Extends benefits for an extra 13 weeks after regular unemployment benefits run out.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – Extends benefits to self-employed, freelancers, and independent contractors.
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) – Provides a federal benefit of $600 a week.

But my office has heard from many people frustrated with delays when they try to call the Employment Security Department or in getting their benefits. We have helped many constituents and stand ready to continue to help. You can find our contact information below, and more information about unemployment benefits here.

What the Legislature Is Doing

Before we adjourned on March 12, the Legislature unanimously passed HB 2965 to dedicate $200 million from our state’s rainy day fund as a down payment on the many unexpected costs our people and our state and local governments would face as a result of the pandemic.

This funding has helped improve virus testing, propped up local efforts to shelter and quarantine those without stable housing, increased nursing home beds, purchased protective equipment like ventilators and masks for health care workers, and bolstered the unemployment system.

In the economic wake of the pandemic, the state will need to take action to shore up our budget and our economy. Thanks to our fiscal prudence over the past few years, our budget has left almost $3 billion in reserves to help weather a recession. In addition, the governor vetoed bills and budget items passed this year in order to save another $450 million. While these vetoes were painful, they were necessary to tackle the worst public health crisis our state has seen in a hundred years.

The Legislature has already established committees to study and recommend legislation in preparation for the next regular session or a possible special session. The challenge is daunting, but we are heading into it well prepared.

If you’d like to see what I have been working on in Olympia, you can like my official legislative Facebook page here.

Due to election year restrictions, I will not be able to send official e-newsletters or update my legislative website and Facebook page from May 11 until the November 3 election is certified in December.

However, my office will remain open, so if you need to contact me or my staff, please see the contact information below, and please don’t hesitate to stay in touch.

Sincerely,