OLYMPIA – Washingtonians will have greater access to extended unemployment benefits during times of high unemployment, under a bill that passed the House today and is headed to the governor’s desk.

“This bill helps the workers who are suffering most from the pandemic recession,” 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, which passed the House today on a vote of 94-4, will 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 Program, funded 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 removes a time limitation in state law that can prevent claimants from receiving these benefits. It also removes 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 governor for his signature.