Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now in the fourth week of this year's legislative session. I would like to highlight a few things for you that happened since my last update.
Stopping unemployment tax increases
The House passed SB 5061, a bill that temporarily halts unemployment tax increases on our state's businesses. In the last month, many of our state's small businesses have seen their unemployment tax rates go up by over 1,000%. This is unacceptable anytime, but especially when many remain shut down by the governor's orders.
The good news is that the bill stopped scheduled rate increases in early 2021. The bad news is that the rate freeze is only temporary. Also, nothing was done to address the huge deficit in the unemployment insurance reserve from 2020's heavy demands on the account and the hundreds of millions of dollars the Employment Security Department lost to Nigerian scammers.
House Republicans proposed several amendments to fix these issues. Even though all Republicans and even a few Democrats supported these efforts, the majority voted against a permanent solution in favor of a temporary one. I voted against the final bill because I believe we need to solve this urgent problem now, not later, and reduce the amount of uncertainty our small businesses will face over the next few years.
Another dangerous failure by a state agency
On February 1, the Washington State Auditor announced that a security incident might have exposed sensitive data belonging to Washingtonians – including personal information from about 1.6 million unemployment claims made in 2020. You can read the Washington State Auditor's news release here.
If you or someone you know filed an unemployment claim with the state Employment Security Department in 2020, here is how to determine if you were affected.
- About the Accellion data security breach | What you need to know
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