(360) 786-7636|Dean.Takko@leg.wa.gov

E-News

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,

E-News: Coronavirus – what the state is doing to help

March 12th, 2020|

Dear Friends and 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

  • make sure 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.

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 

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

Several school districts around the state have closed, but many still remain open. This is a quickly moving situation, and the latest updates will be reflected on individual school district websites or here. Here are links to the school districts in the 19th Legislative District:

Aberdeen / Adna / Boistfort / Castle Rock / Chehalis / Cosmopolis
Elma / Evaline / Kelso / Longview / Montesano / Napavine
Naselle Grays River Valley / North River / Oakville / Ocean Beach
Ocosta / Pe Ell / Raymond / Rochester / Satsop / South Bend
Wahkiakum / Willapa Valley / Winlock

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 – not go to the clinic or hospital. 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 Washington State Department of Health call center at 1-800-525-0127.

Sincerely,

E-News: Leading the league in bills passed

February 27th, 2020|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Halfway through the legislative session, we hit our first big milestone deadline. The results are in, and I’ve passed 15 bills through the Senate this year – the most of any senator. You can see the full list on my new Facebook page here.

These bills do things like make government more transparent, more efficient, and more responsive on the local level. Here are a few highlights.

The Senate unanimously passed my bill to improve the senior citizen property tax exemption. SB 6319 will make it easier for seniors to stay in their homes by reducing their property taxes. Check here for more information about whether you qualify for a reduction or deferral of your property taxes.

The Senate also passed my bill SB 6324, which increases transparency in government. It gives teeth to the requirement that special purpose taxing districts make their finances public. Taxpayers should know what it is they’re paying for. You can read more about it here.

I was the original sponsor of the 811 Call Before You Dig program, and this year we passed SB 6420 to improve it in several ways, including by increasing safety. We also passed SB 6084 to make it easier for construction trucks and other large vehicles to get around roundabouts, and SB 6574, which makes the board that administers the Growth Management Act more efficient.

Another bill you may be interested in is SB 5005, which allows auto collectors to get personalized collector license plates for classic cars. Right now, you can get a collector plate, or you can get a personalized plate, but you can’t get a personalized collector plate. This bill makes that possible.

There has been some misunderstanding about this bill. It allows collectors to get a personalized collector plate license plate with a one-time fee of $52, and that plate is good for the life of the vehicle. There is no need to renew the plate or pay a recurring fee. And cars that already have a collector plate are not required to get a new one. This simply gives people who have classic cars more options.

If you’d like to follow what I’m working on in Olympia, you can like my official legislative Facebook page here. If you’d like to unsubscribe from these emails, you can do that here.

Please don’t hesitate to stay in touch.

Sincerely,

Senator Dean Takko

E-News – Telephone Town Hall – Monday, March 4

March 1st, 2019|

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Please join Rep. Brian Blake and me for a chance to chat by phone.

WHAT: A town hall by telephone–a chance for you to ask questions of your local lawmakers.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Monday, March 4

WHY:  The 19th District is huge, and we’ve found that town halls by telephone are convenient and save folks the long drive to Aberdeen or Longview or Olympia to talk to their lawmakers. This is another way to keep in touch.

HOW: You should get a phone call at 6 p.m. All you need to do is stay on the line to participate. Press *3 at any time to ask a question.

If you don’t get a call, you can join the call from this website, or dial 1-877-229-8493 and use the ID code 116278 to join in.

The town hall will last until 7 p.m. Hope to hear your voice!

And if you can’t make it on the phone next Monday, you can always contact me through the information in the right sidebar.


Sincerely,

Senator Dean Takko