Monthly Archives: July 2020

E-News: Unemployment benefits and returning to work

July 9th, 2020|

Dear Neighbors,

As our economy reopens, many people who have been furloughed or temporarily let go will be asked to return to work. For anyone who has been collecting unemployment benefits, that can present challenges. The Employment Security Department (ESD) has just published information to help people navigate the return to work. Please share this with anyone you know who might be able to make use of it.

Under normal circumstances, anyone collecting unemployment benefits is required to look for work. This requirement has been suspended at least through August 1 by the governor and legislative leaders due to the coronavirus pandemic. ESD is revising the job search requirements so that when they are eventually reinstated, they will take into account our new normal of social distancing.

If you are collecting unemployment benefits and are offered work, under most circumstances, you cannot refuse that offer and continue to collect benefits. However, there are some exceptions if you have a “good cause” reason. These are determined by ESD on a case-by-case basis.

For example, some employers are offering workers their old jobs back but with reduced wages or hours. That kind of situation would be reviewed, and the wages being offered would be compared for prevailing wage rates in the area to determine if benefits could be continued.

If the job you are offered does not lend itself to telework, some examples of good cause reasons not to accept the offer of work include:

Even if you are denied regular unemployment benefits because you refused an offer of work, you may be eligible for federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance so long as the reason is that you are directly impacted by coronavirus. For example:

  • You must care for a child in your household who is unable to attend a school or daycare that has been closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are awaiting a medical diagnosis.
  • A member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You can’t get to work because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public-health emergency.

You can find more information on the ESD website:

  • The Refusal of Work page provides information about when someone can or cannot refuse an offer of work and retain unemployment benefits.
  • The Return to Work page provides information and links to resources for both employers and workers.

I also want you to know that the Employment Security Department is making significant progress on resolving claims for people who have been waiting several weeks for the benefits and in recovering the majority of the funds stolen by a criminal network of fraudsters.

I hope you and your family are managing during these difficult pandemic days. I think about how my mom managed during World War II when my father was in the Army for more than four years in every theater of war in North Africa, Italy and France.

The motto then still stands now: “We Can Do This!” Please stay safe, keep your distance, wear your mask and wash your hands.

If you’d like to follow what I’m working on, you can like my official legislative Facebook page here.

Please don’t hesitate to stay in touch. Stay safe and take care.

Always,

Senator Karen Keiser

Chair, Senate Labor & Commerce Committee

Senate President Pro Tempore

State eyeing Thurston County for Sea-Tac-size airport

July 1st, 2020|

From KIRO 7

Commercial 737s could touch down in south Thurston County.

“An airport down here would be pretty cool,” resident D.J. Crawford said.

The state’s Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission is looking for a place to build a Sea-Tac -sized airport.

“We are really near capacity at Sea-Tac International Airport and it’s the smallest international airport in the country with no room to grow, ” Sen. Karen Keiser said. “We have got to figure out some options here.”

Last month, the state sent county commissioners a letter asking if Thurston County would be interested in being a contender for a commercial airport. Commissioners chose not to respond until they receive feedback from the community.

The site is 4,500 acres north of Littlerock, south of Black Lake and west of I-5.

Thurston County Commissioner Tye Menser said an airport would change the county’s entire landscape.

“An airport, like Sea-Tac, that’s like a little city,” he said. “It is a massive change to the character of a community, so it’s something we really have to talk to our citizens about.”

Previous studies show the flight path would take planes over downtown Olympia and the state capitol.

Some people aren’t on board.

“A solution is for all of us, myself included, to stop flying around so much,” resident Naki Stevens said. “I think we need to make do with the airport we have at Sea-Tac. It’s only an hour away.”

Projections show by 2050, the state will need twice the capacity for air travel. Many feel a second airport is the only choice.

“I don’t know what the other options are,” Menser said. “It may be that Thurston County is the best of a set of bad choices and, if that’s true, maybe my mind could be changed.”

It will be a while before a decision is made. Six locations will be selected by the start of next year. The list will be narrowed down to two spots by September 2021. The final decision will be made by Jan. 1, 2022.

Those who would like to weigh in are asked to contact WSDOT’s Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission or the Thurston County Board of Commissioners.

By Shelby Miller