Our top priority this session is to continue to provide relief to the families and small businesses that need it urgently. We have expedited a package of bills that will get that help out the door immediately and build upon the work we have been doing all last year in addressing the pandemic. These bills invest in prevention, relief, and recovery. They are the next big step toward eradicating the virus and getting our economy back on track.
We passed SB 5061, last week, which provides $1.7 billion in unemployment insurance tax relief for all businesses in Washington, and it raises the minimum benefit level to give a boost to the workers hardest hit.
Next, we will be passing HB 1367 and HB 1368, which would appropriate $2.2 billion, much of it from the federal stimulus package, to expand testing and vaccine availability, extend support to schools, provide grants for small business, and help thousands meet basic needs with housing and food assistance. Some of the main provisions of the bills would provide:
- $618 million for vaccine administration, contract tracing and testing (includes emphasis on helping school districts reopen safely).
- $668 million for schools as they resume in-person learning plus dedicated funding to help students catch up from learning loss during the pandemic.
- $365 million for rental assistance to help tenants and landlords impacted by the pandemic.
- $240 million for more than 12,000 small business assistance grants (administered through the state Department of Commerce).
- $70 million to assist undocumented immigrants who have been impacted by the pandemic, but do not qualify for federal or state assistance.
- $26 million for food assistance to individuals and households in need.
- $50 million in grants to help childcare businesses stay open and expand capacity.
The Legislature is also working on a bill that would help struggling bars and restaurants by waiving liquor license fees (SB 2572), and one that would help many small businesses by exempting federal funds received via the Paycheck Protection Program from being subject to B&O taxes (HB 1002).
Introducing Team Dhingra 2021
Meet my team for this year! Many of you know my terrific legislative assistant, Ashley Jackson, who is in her fourth legislative session helping and supporting the people of the 45th District. This year, she’s joined by our session aide, Jessica Thom, who recently graduated from WWU with a BA in English and pre-law and brings experience as a 2109 legislative intern. Our intern this year is Fatima Al-Rikabi, who is studying history and sociology at UW. She has been interested in the Legislature since being a page in the House when she was younger. Finally, we have Kenneth Fockele, who helps out with our public communications. You can get in touch with my office here. I do hope you’ll reach out!
Stay safe and take care.
Sen. Manka Dhingra
45th Legislative District
Deputy Majority Leader