Republican lawmakers step up with plan for safe restart of economy

Wilcox: “We are looking forward to working with the governor and majority party to produce the best possible results for both our public health and our economic crisis.”

Republicans in the state Senate and House of Representatives today shared the first plan for safely restarting Washington’s economy while state government’s response to the COVID-19 emergency continues.

“Employers across our state are looking to government for a strategy that starts to take the brake off the economy. Republicans have come through with a safe and reasonable approach for beginning the recovery,” said Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler.

“We believe many sectors of our economy can operate safely, and employers have every incentive to take the precautions needed to guard the health of their workers and their customers. We trust that if they have an opportunity to open their doors, they’ll make it work.”

“Our state needs a comprehensive plan to restart its economy in ways that continue to emphasize the health of Washingtonians. No one has produced a plan until now,” said House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox.

“Republicans have been working over the last few weeks to come up with solutions. We know employers and workers need reassurance in these uncertain times. They need to know there’s a plan for them to come back.”

The Republican legislators’ Safe Economic Restart Plan recommends three tiers of actions, starting with steps that may be authorized immediately by Gov. Jay Inslee. They include:

  • Convene a Restart Task Force comprising legislative leaders, relevant executive-branch directors and representatives of the business and organized-labor communities. This group will chart a course toward allowing all Washington businesses to reopen, on a phased or limited basis as necessary, with COVID-19 protections for workers and customers in place.
  • Allow operations to resume in economic sectors that fit one or more of these criteria: low-risk; personal health; environmental protection; aid to people who are elderly, physically challenged, or both; alternate quarantine locations; assisting businesses with tax-related requirements; and property protection. Examples are auto dealers, solo landscape services, car washes, remodeling companies and contractors, residential construction, hairdressers and barbers, flower shops, RV parks, dentists, installers of home and commercial security systems, and accountants and tax preparers.
  • Fully disclose the “metrics” that must be met before the governor’s March 23 stay-at-home proclamation, which closed more than 230,000 businesses abruptly, can be lifted or amended. Knowing the standards will allow the people of Washington to act accordingly.
  • Deliver on the massive testing capabilities promised by state health officials ahead of the business-closure order. Direct the appropriate state agencies to acquire antibody tests and work with employers to screen workers. Workers found to have the antibodies resulting from the COVID-19 infection will be immediately eligible for employment.
  • Interface with the governor’s Business Recovery Legislative Task Force and be prepared to support recommendations that are achievable, measurable and complementary.
  • A moratorium on all state-agency rulemaking not related to the current crisis. Rules are important, but at a time when many businesses are simply trying to survive, the making of new rules seems less than essential. Relief from rulemaking goes hand-in-hand with relief from taxes.
  • Exempt small businesses from paying sales and business-and-occupation (B&O) taxes for one year.
  • Offer state-government assistance to the many small businesses in Washington that do not qualify for federal emergency-assistance programs.

“We are looking forward to working with the governor and majority party to produce the best possible results for both our public health and our economic crisis,” said Wilcox, R-Yelm.  

“Republicans work for all of Washington, and we recognize how a strong economy makes for strong families and strong communities. Our state’s economy was particularly strong before things caved in, and we believe it can get there again—and sooner if the governor and Legislature will support these very reasonable ideas,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville.

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Washington State House Republican Communications