Dear friends and neighbors,
These are challenging times for our families, our communities, and our state. We’re all in this together, but it’s important to acknowledge that each of us is hurting right now in different ways.
This is at the forefront of my mind as the Legislature prepares for the 2021 session next month. We are ready to do the people’s work safely and transparently, and we can accomplish both in a remote session that protects the health of the public, staff, and legislators.
A remote session is not what we hoped for. It is unprecedented. But it has also given us the opportunity to innovate and come up with ways the Legislature can be more accessible to the people we serve. In fact, the public will have more opportunities to engage with us than ever before.
For example: for the first time, the House and Senate will be accepting written testimony from the public on bills before committees via email and postal mail. No matter where you live, you’ll be able to submit your comments remotely, and they will be entered into the testimonial record.
My focus is on getting the work done and keeping things moving forward in our state. Your questions, comments, and feedback are always welcome, so please don’t hesitate to contact me.
New round of help for small businesses
Working Washington Small Business Grants are available for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. Applications received by this Friday, December 11, will be given priority.
Who can apply?
Small businesses with annual revenues of $5 million or less in 2019 who are in the sectors most affected by public health measures to fight the COVID-19 virus. Those include restaurants, fitness centers, bowling alleys, and musical venues.
Nonprofits may be eligible if they have a primary activity that’s similar.
Applicants with revenues in excess of $5 million may receive funding if the Department of Commerce has leftover funds after giving grants to all the smaller businesses and nonprofits who applied and qualified.
What is the grant?
The maximum grant is $20,000, which can only be used to cover costs due to the pandemic which were necessary to continue operating. Example: rent.
How can you apply?
For a full checklist of information and to fill out an application online, go to commerce.wa/bizgrants
State launches app to help stop the spread of COVID-19
A new statewide COVID-19 exposure tool for iPhone and Android users called WA Notify is now available! This optional tool is free to use, anonymous, and protects your privacy. It works by alerting you whenever you are around another WA Notify user who later tests positive for COVID-19.
Using WA Notify is completely voluntary. In the first 24 hours it was available, 700,000 people in our state chose to download or activate it on their phones.
Were you one of the 700,000 Washingtonians to activate WA Notify in the first 24 hours it was available? If so, THANK YOU!
Whether or not you chose to use this tool, you can still play an important role in helping stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities by wearing a mask, washing your hands, and staying home as much as possible.
Open enrollment period for health insurance ends December 15
It’s more important than ever to make sure you and your family have the health care coverage you need. The annual open enrollment period ends December 15. Sign up by then to receive insurance beginning in January 2021.
Visit WAHealthPlanFinder.org to browse and compare plans—including new Cascade Care plans. WA Health Plan Finder is your one-stop-shop for updating your information, submitting documents and finding financial assistance. Don’t delay!
Students: Apply now for financial aid for college
In Washington state, there are two ways to apply for financial aid:
- U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens apply with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
- People who can’t file the FAFSA—due to immigration status, defaulted federal loans, or other issues with federal aid—can apply for state aid with the WASFA (Washington Application for State Financial Aid).
Completing a FAFSA or WASFA financial aid application is a crucial first step toward college and career training. Many families assume they won’t qualify for aid, but there’s more help available than ever before—the only way to know for sure if you’ll qualify is to apply.
It is time to apply for financial aid for the 2021-22 school year. Filing a financial aid application gives you more options for the future. Learn more, get support, and apply for financial aid at wsac.wa.gov/apply.