Governor Inslee Announces Business and Employee Relief Measures

Governor Inslee yesterday announced details regarding economic relief for businesses and workers impacted by the COVID 19 outbreak. Below are details regarding both. We will continue to provide updates to these efforts at both the state and federal level as they become available.

In addition, the Association of Washington Business (AWB) has created a helpful resource page for businesses and their employees. You can access that page here.

Finally, AWB is hosting a COVID 19 Business Impact Webinar on Monday, March 23rd 10-11:30 AM. The speakers on the webinar confirmed come from the following agencies and related fields: WA State Department of Labor & Industries; WA Small Business Development Center, WSU; University of Washington School of Public Health; WA Emergency Management Division; U.S. Small Business Administration; WA State Department of Commerce; WA State Department of Health.

One-Week Waiting Period Waiver for Unemployment Insurance & Unemployment Insurance Eligibility Expansion:

Inslee announced a waiver of one week waiting period to receive unemployment insurance. The order is retroactive for claims filed up to March 8th. The Governor said he is working with the White House and our congressional delegation to become eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. That would allow WA State to expand unemployment insurance to those who are otherwise not eligible for unemployment insurance, like workers with less than 680 hours and independent contractors.

WA State Small Business Assistance:

Governor Inslee will allocate up to $5 million of the Governor’s Strategic Funds reserve to be made available as small business grants to prevent closure due to COVID-19. Once available, applications will be coordinate under the state Dept of Commerce.

Small Business Administration Disaster Loans:

The federal Small Business Administration approved Governor Inslee’s request for disaster declaration, which unlocks low interest loans for WA small businesses to help meet financial obligations and cover operating expenses. Congress approved up to $7 billion in SBA disaster loans for businesses impacted by COVID-19. We encourage you to apply if needed and learn more here.

Flexibility for Tax Collections:

The WA State Dept of Revenue will have authority to waive, suspend penalties and interest on certain late payments. The state will create payment plans on the amount businesses owe without filing tax liens in federal courts. This includes waiving late filing fees for property tax exemption renewals; business license renewal late fees; and excise tax interest on B&O, real estate sales, and other taxes the department administers.

Utility Rate Payer Assistance:

The Governor called on all public Utilities in WA State to suspend disconnection tariffs for nonpayment during this emergency; waiving late fees for customers who are our of work or offering customers payment plans; and expanding bill assistance programs.

Cash Assistance to Families:

Governor Inslee has directed the state Dept of Social and Health Service to expand eligibility for the Family Emergency Assistance Program to include families without children.

Workforce Retention and Economic Development:

The Employment Security Department and Department of Commerce will lead efforts to support economic retention, resilience and recovery efforts. This team will work with the business community to move forward toward economic recovery. As resources and tools become available, check here.

Mental Health Support:

The behavioral health community is ready to help those who may be struggling with stress and mental health during this on-going crisis. If you or a family member needs emotional of mental health support, consider calling the Washington Poverty Help Center Line at 1-866-789-1511.