OLYMPIA – Washingtonians would have greater access to extended unemployment benefits during times of high unemployment, under a bill passed by a strong bipartisan majority of the Senate today. 

This bill strengthens the safety net for people who are laid off during the pandemic,” said Sen. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell), the bill’s sponsor. It removes red tape to unlock access to the full amount of benefits for people who have been kept out of work for extended periods.” 

SB 5425, passed today on a vote of 46-3, would create more flexibility in our state unemployment insurance program and ensure we conform with federal law. 

During periods of high unemployment, the state can trigger the Extended Benefits Programfunded jointly with the federal government, which provides an additional 13 to 20 weeks of benefits to eligible people who have exhausted all their regular unemployment insurance benefits.   

The bill would remove a time limitation in state law that can prevent claimants from receiving these benefits. It would also remove a restriction on how much time must elapse between high-unemployment periods when the state triggers the Extended Benefits Program. To maintain conformity with federal law, it also adjusts the requirements related to claimants’ job searches.  

SB 5425 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration. It has until April 11 to be approved by the House to be eligible to become law this year. 

The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on April 25.