Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The coronavirus is one of those problems that should cause elected officials to put aside their partisan differences and work for the common good. I'm proud to say that's precisely what is happening in Washington state.
On March 2, I joined a handful of Democrats and two Republicans in co-sponsoring emergency legislation to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Both the House and the Senate passed the bill last week and Gov. Jay Inslee has announced he will sign it into law.
I don't always agree with the governor, but he has shown leadership and demonstrated a willingness to work across the aisle on this issue. Many of the tough decisions he has made are going to save lives in the coming months.
I am also proud of Republican leadership for continuing to work in Olympia with the governor's office and state and local agencies, even though the legislative session has ended.
House Republicans are meeting telephonically every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to review developments and to discuss the feedback we all have received from our districts. Contact my office at 509-728-9174 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have ideas or concerns you want me to pass along.
The emergency legislation I co-sponsored authorizes the governor to use up to $200 million from the state's rainy-day fund to fight the coronavirus. It gives him the ability to help local and state health departments expand staffing and buy testing equipment and supplies — and, if possible, to replenish whatever money is spent from future federal grants.
The bill also sets aside $25 million to cover an expected spike in unemployment benefits and to protect businesses from rate increases that may be caused by that spike. This helps the workers who lose their jobs and helps the businesses who have to lay-off employees.
Additionally, the package provides funds to reimburse nursing homes for any unexpected costs incurred because of the outbreak. Our seniors and vulnerable neighbors are the target of this virus and we need to make sure that the people who shelter and care for them have what they need.
While this package is a good start, there is more to do. Legislators from both parties stand ready to participate in a special session should the governor need more. Ideas already on the table are childcare reimbursement for working families during school closure days, tax relief for businesses and property owners impacted by the shutdowns, and funding for equipment and short-term operating capacity at out-of-operation medical facilities like Yakima's Astria hospital.
Things will get worse before they get better. By working as a community and following the advice of public health officials, the better days will come sooner. And we will emerge stronger as a state for having overcome the challenge together. May God bless and protect you and your family.