E-newsletter: Ferry funding and opportunities to get involved

Friends and neighbors,

We’ve still got a few more months to go before the 2022 legislative session kicks into high gear, but in the meantime – I wanted to update you all about ongoing work I’m doing for our district, and send out some opportunities for you to make your voice heard.

As always, you can reach out to me at Liz.Lovelett@leg.wa.gov with your feedback and concerns. 

Ferry Legislator Caucus

Ferries are an essential part of our state’s transportation system and are a basic necessity for residents in the San Juans. Despite their importance to our community, it’s no secret that they’ve lacked proper resources and investments. 

Covid has affected all our lives, but few state agencies were hit harder by the pandemic than Washington State Ferries (WSF). The unprecedented frequency of service disruptions passengers have endured, either through severely delayed sailings or cancellations, has been, and continues to be unacceptable. However, as bad as it has been over this past summer, Island residents know all too well that these issues have existed way before the pandemic, which has only exacerbated the problems of an already stressed system.

With ferries being a top priority, I worked to establish a formal bipartisan, bicameral Ferry Legislator Caucus to better organize and advocate for desperately needed funding to replace our aging fleet, minimize disruptions, and improve overall service. Joined in the House by Rep. Dave Paul, together we chair this group to bring attention and leadership to solve short- and long-term issues with our anemic system. We are strongly advocating to modernize WSF’s hiring practices to avoid unnecessary winter layoffs and to provide sustainable, living wage employment opportunities for our working families year round. We believe that this will lead to greater staff retention and provide more reliable service that residents can count on. 

On that note, I want to thank our frontline and essential WSF workers who have continued to show up every day during this pandemic and work overtime to ensure our ferry system functions to the best of its ability. Remember folks, the pandemic has been tough for so many workers – so even when we’re frustrated, be sure to be kind!

Save the Date: Upcoming Tax Town Halls 

Studies have made it clear that Washington’s tax code favors wealthier residents while placing a massive burden on lower-income families. We have taken steps to address this inequity, but there is still plenty of work to be done. To shape the future of our state, your input will be crucial to the process. 

The Tax Structure Work Group is hosting a series of town halls to get input from taxpayers throughout Washington, and you can make your voice heard! You can register for the town halls in our region on October 6 at either 2:30 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. Head to this link to learn more! I look forward to seeing you there and hearing your input on how best to move our state forward.

Working Washington Grants: Border Business Relief Program

The Washington State Department of Commerce recently announced applications for a Working Washington grant for customer-facing businesses impacted by the closure of the U.S.- Canadian border throughout the duration of the pandemic. If your establishment meets all the following criteria, you are eligible to apply for this grant:

  • Active business physically located in one of the following counties in Washington state: Clallam, Jefferson, Skagit, San Juan, Island, Whatcom, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille
  • Reported annual gross receipts of $5,000,000 USD or less to the Washington State Department of Revenue for calendar year 2019
  • Documented reduction in business income or activity related to COVID-19 or as a result of state or local COVID-19 related public health measures
  • Adherence to all required COVID-19 public health measures

Head here to learn more and find relevant contact and application information. Applications will be open October 4-18. 

I look forward to continuing to keep you in the loop in the lead up to the 2022 legislative session – but in the meantime, feel free to
reach out with your input!