Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Since my last update, the House has passed two COVID relief bills, the Employment Security Department has continued to struggle, and we learned hackers stole the personal data of 1.4 million Washingtonians by infiltrating systems in the state auditor's office. My latest video update is longer than usual because I wanted to touch on each of these subjects. I hope you'll take five minutes to watch.
Two COVID relief bills approved by House
Two major COVID relief bills have been approved by the House so far this session.
Senate Bill 5061 will limit the massive unemployment insurance tax increases businesses are facing, which is a good thing. That being said, House Republicans offered a number of amendments that would have provided much more relief. One amendment would have suspended all unemployment insurance tax increases until the governor's termination of the current state of emergency. Another would have given business owners a little breathing room by allowing them to defer unemployment insurance tax payments for two quarters. The third would have authorized a one-time transfer from the state's rainy-day fund to the unemployment trust fund, which has been depleted as a result of the pandemic. Each of these amendments were rejected, which was disappointing.
The other bill that came to the floor was House Bill 1368, the majority's COVID relief package. It will provide $2.2 billion for Washington families and businesses. Rep. Drew Stokesbary's REAL Recovery for Washington Act would have provided twice that amount. You can review a comparison of the competing proposals here. During the floor debate on HB 1368, House Republicans made it clear how woefully inadequate the majority's plan is.
LeVine leaves for D.C. as problems persist at the Employment Security Department
As I mentioned above, the Employment Security Department (ESD) has continued to struggle getting unemployment benefits to Washingtonians. It's been an issue of frustration for far too many people, and it doesn't appear the issues will be fixed any time soon.
A couple of weeks ago, I was stunned to learn ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine was leaving the agency to take a job in the Biden administration. To quit in the middle of a crisis shows a complete lack of leadership, and also shows how poor of a choice she was for that role. Going forward, it is imperative that the governor appoints people who are able to lead effectively and serve Washingtonians well. We've seen too many failures already. You deserve better from your state government.
To stay up-to-date on the latest from session, please follow House Republicans on Twitter and Facebook, and bookmark our legislative news aggregator, The Ledger. And as always, please feel free to contact me any time with your comments, questions and concerns.
It is an honor to serve you.