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WA Cares improvements, bringing down costs for Washington families

Caregiver with elderly person

Dear friends and neighbors,

It is Week 3 of the 2022 legislative session, which means we are already over a quarter of the way through it. That’s how quickly things move in a 60-day session!

I’m excited to share that this week the governor signed two key bills to improve the WA Cares Fund, the long-term care benefit that will help more Washingtonians access the care they need as they age so they can stay in their homes longer. The House took early action to pass those bills last week.

The two bills are:

HB 1732, sponsored by House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, which pauses the program for 18 months to allow lawmakers to implement reforms to expand access to the program to those closer to retirement than the original legislation allowed. During this time, employers won’t have to collect premiums and any premiums already collected will be refunded.

HB 1733, sponsored by Rep. Dave Paul, which enables military spouses, disabled veterans, border state residents, and non-immigrant visa holders to voluntarily exempt themselves from the WA Cares program. Concerns were raised that these folks would pay premiums but would never receive the benefit.

WA Cares graphic

I’m glad we moved quickly to make sure the WA Cares Fund is even more accessible, flexible, and works for everyone. This critical benefit provides more options, so people don’t have to first spend themselves into poverty to access long-term care, or be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

This story from Crosscut highlights why it’s so important for our state to have this life-changing benefit available. Most people don’t have long-term care insurance policies or enough savings to pay for the care they will need as they age. But even those who do have private long-term care policies can find themselves struggling, as the Crosscut article shows. That’s not right, and it’s why we need WA Cares.

While I am thrilled the reforms to WA Cares passed both chambers with strong bipartisan majorities, some legislators say they’d prefer to “repeal and replace” WA Cares. We’ve heard that phrase before in our national discourse, and it isn’t associated with helping more people get the care they and their families need.

Bottom line: Democrats have led the way this session in taking steps to strengthen the WA Cares Fund and address any outstanding issues so it can do what was intended: help people access care, and bring down costs for those struggling to pay for it.

Bringing down costs for Washington families

School supplies

In my opening day of session remarks, I said this legislative session was going to be about moving EVERYONE forward.

One way to help people move forward is to bring down costs that people are paying in our state, and my colleagues in the House Democratic Caucus are championing bills that do this:

For students and families struggling to pay for college, there are proposals to expand the Washington College Grant, our state’s nation-leading financial aid program that provides free or reduced tuition for students from middle- and low-income families. By providing additional flexible dollars that can be used for housing, food, transportation, books and child care, HB 1659 would address costs that are a burden to many students but aren’t currently covered by the Washington College Grant.

For students who don’t qualify for the Washington College Grant, HB 1736 establishes a low-interest (one percent!) student loan program, to reduce borrowing costs and help those who want to avoid higher-rate federal or private loans.

When it comes to health care, it’s hard enough to pay for medical expenses you can plan for, but unexpected medical bills can totally derail a family’s finances. That’s why I’m excited about HB 1688, which protects consumers from charges for out-of-network health care services. It aligns state law and the federal No Surprises Act, addressing coverage of treatment for emergency conditions.

And one of the most costly times of the year for families is back-to-school season. Those costs can really add up, as I remember well from school shopping for my son. As we look for ways to invest one-time funds the state has by putting it back in people’s pocketbooks, a sales tax holiday a great way to do this.

HB 2018 would suspend the state sales tax this year on Sept. 3, 4, and 5 for certain items priced $1,000 or less, including clothing, school supplies, computers, durable medical goods, and energy efficient appliances.

A sales tax holiday would have an immediate impact on family budgets as they plan for purchases this fall, and would give a boost to our small and main street businesses as well.

These are just some of the ideas House Democrats are bringing forth to help bring down costs for families across our state. I hope we see every one of these bills make it to the governor’s desk.

As always, I want to hear from you. If you have questions, comments, or concerns about anything in this newsletter or another legislative issue, don’t hesitate to reach out.

It’s an honor to represent you in the state House.


Laurie Jinkins informal signature

Happy holidays – we’re all in this together

man getting Covid-19 vaccine
Photo credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff via Wikimedia

Dear friends and neighbors,

As the year winds down, I’m guessing most of us are pretty ready to say goodbye to 2020. This has been a tough year for so many, including right here in our community. The struggles people are experiencing – unemployment, financial hardship, housing insecurity, health challenges, isolation from loved ones, stress around remote work and school – are very real.

This week marked the winter solstice: the shortest day of the year with the least daylight. Reaching this point means we have now turned a corner, and each new day going forward brings us a little more light.

Likewise, there is hopeful news as we look ahead. The COVID-19 vaccine is being deployed in our state right now, starting with our frontline health care workers, first responders, and those in congregate care settings. And state lawmakers are gearing up to begin the 2021 legislative session next month to address our state’s most pressing issues, including pandemic response, economic recovery, climate change, and racial equity.

As I said in my last e-newsletter, the coming session will look very different than previous ones because it will be conducted remotely. But it’s how we’ll do the people’s work safely and transparently while continuing to make progress in fighting this pandemic and reopening our economy.

I wish you and those you love a safe and healthy holiday season. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your questions, comments, and concerns.


Laurie first name signature

Coping with COVID during the holidays

African American elderly couple on couch video chatting with granddaughter.

Staying socially connected while remaining physically distant during this pandemic has been challenging for many of us. Some are using video chat programs to keep in touch with friends and family, but even technology can’t make up for being apart during the holidays.

Maybe you’ve had to have tough conversations with family and friends about how to celebrate while making sure everyone feels safe. Our state’s Department of Health (DOH) experts have pulled together a short podcast with some tips on how to navigate challenging COVID conversations:

  1. Listen proactively by asking open-ended questions, and shifting away from giving advice or problem solving.
  2. Set boundaries by being clear about what makes you feel safe and when you need to step back from the conversation.
  3. Regulate your reactions by taking time to pause and resisting the natural urge to respond quickly and emotionally.
  4. Own your mistakes by taking responsibility if you say something harsh and normalizing that mistakes will happen in times of intense stress.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, families or people trained in behavioral health. The WA Listens support line (1-833-681-0211) is free, anonymous, available in multiple languages and happy to guide you to support.

These conversations are not easy. But they’re necessary to keep each other safe while staying connected.

And if you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or sad, know that you are not alone. If you need help coping during the holidays, Washington state DOH has mental health resources as does NAMI Pierce County.

Getting ready for the 2021 session

Empty House chamber

With remote session, people will have more opportunities to engage with the legislature than ever before. You can still watch committee hearings and floor action, contact your lawmakers, and testify on bills. And for the first time, you will be able to submit written testimony via an online portal that will be entered as part of the official record.

Here are five ways to get involved in the legislative process:

Learn—The whole legislative process, from start to finish, is explained at or check out this step-by-step explanation of How a Bill Becomes a Law

Watch—Go to for broadcasts of debates, votes, committee meetings, and other events in the House and Senate. There’s also an extensive archive of past events, if you couldn’t watch it live.

Research—To look up legislation by lawmaker or topic, visit

Testify—The House will soon unveil that online portal for written testimony mentioned above. Stay tuned for more information, or contact my office we’ll help keep you informed about how to submit testimony to legislative committees.

Explore—Visit my legislative website to see what I’m working on (all my past newsletters and press releases are posted there), or like and follow my official legislative Facebook page.



Our final update for now, and resources going forward

Courtesy: Governor Jay Inslee

Dear friends and neighbors,

By staying home and practicing social distancing, we slowed the spread of COVID-19 in our state. Last week, the governor announced a four-phased approach to reopening. Phase I started this week, and includes opening up some outdoor recreation and restarting certain types of businesses, like some construction, landscaping, auto sales, and curbside retail.

We support a data-driven and public health-oriented approach as we continue to loosen restrictions and reopen our state further. It’s been said that this will be like turning a dial, not flipping a switch. No one wants infection rates to start climbing so that we have to dial things back again.

That’s why we’re asking you to continue practicing physical distancing, keep washing your hands, and follow the guidelines for the different phases of reopening.

We’re all in this together, and until the development of an effective vaccine and effective treatment for COVID-19, or herd immunity, we all have to look out for each other as we begin our economic recovery.

Green open sign on wooden gate

What House Democrats are working on right now

Currently, issue-focused teams convened after the 2020 session concluded are working on everything from economic recovery, to food security, to bridging the digital divide so that all Washingtonians have access to broadband, and more.

By determining current gaps and needs across the state, these teams will provide our federal partners with recommendations for how to structure future stimulus packages to help more Washingtonians.

Both these teams and our current House committee chairs are taking the lead on the state’s response as it pertains to the Legislature’s role. This work will inform our caucus priorities in a potential special session and in the 2021 Legislative Session, so we can best support workers, small businesses, and communities struggling all across our state.

This is our last newsletter for a while – but we’re still here for you

During an election year, there are certain restrictions on our communications to prevent the use of state resources for election purposes. These restrictions include a freeze on e-newsletters such as this one, as well as updates to our legislative websites – meaning no new content can be added beginning May 11, 2020 until after the general election in November.

However, we are still able to respond to your emails or phone calls, so please continue to reach out if you have any questions, concerns, or comments.

COVID-19 resources

As we continue navigating these challenging times, the need for accurate, up-to-date information is important. The links below are trusted sources of COVID-19-related information for our community and state:

Thank you for helping to flatten the curve, and we’re looking forward to when we can see you out in the community once again.


Laurie Jinkins signature casual                Rep. Fey signature

Speaker Laurie Jinkins       Rep. Jake Fey


More steps forward in reopening our state

Dear friends and neighbors,

Thank you to everyone who participated in our telephone town hall. It was so nice to hear your voices and to have a dialogue about how to get through this viral pandemic.

One of the questions we got during the call came from Susan, a constituent concerned about local small business owners who may have been denied federal stimulus funding specifically because they had owned their businesses for less than a year.

We had legislative staff look further into that question, and it appears owning a business for less than a year does not disqualify that business from receiving help from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. Additionally, businesses not eligible for PPP are listed in this Small Business Administration document, and owning a business for less than a year is not singled out. However, the PPP program left it up to banks to determine who they would work with to submit applications for the PPP loans, and this has resulted in some small businesses being unable to access the program. This is one of the issues state lawmakers are raising with Washington’s congressional delegation as we convey our state’s specific requests for further federal help.

This week, we’d like to talk about two new steps Washington state is taking to reopen, along with what’s next.

Restarting work on transportation projects

road construction crew on rural highway paving

Construction work–including transportation projects here in the 27th District and across the state–was put on pause due to the global pandemic.

We’re happy to report that construction can restart as long as they meet the safety requirements outlined by Gov. Jay Inslee. The governor’s office has also created a list of Frequently Asked Questions on this topic.

This new order includes not only residential and commercial construction, but transportation work. It’s great news because without these safety measures, our summer construction season could have been lost.

Transportation projects funded in the new state budget are critically important for our economy–and our economic recovery. They mean jobs today for construction workers and engineers and jobs tomorrow as build a better, more sustainable transportation network.

Enjoying the outdoors, safely

man standing up in small boat in middle of lake fishing; lake surrounded by evergreens

During our telephone town hall, many of you had questions related to outdoor recreation. Why couldn’t you fish alone, hike, or golf? Enjoying the outdoors is a big reason people choose to live here in Washington state.

A new order by Gov. Inslee announces fishing, hiking, hunting, and golfing will be open again on May 5, as long as people maintain social distancing.

You can read the details for the partial reopening of outdoor recreation here.

Reopening Outdoor Recreation slide

What’s next?

There’s a lot happening every day during this global pandemic.

One of the issues we’re watching is the next step in Congress to fight COVID-19 and the economic damage it’s done.

Lawmakers and governors from both parties are advocating for the next round to include funding for state and local governments. It’s not a legal option, despite what some politicians and pundits have said, for any U.S. state to declare bankruptcy.

Without help from the federal government, it may be impossible for states, including Washington state, to keep doctors, nurses, public health experts, firefighters, and police officers on the job.

We’re in close contact with members of our state’s Congressional delegation and will keep you updated on any new developments on this front.

Please call or email if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.


            Rep. Fey signature

Speaker Laurie Jinkins        Rep. Jake Fey


Safely reopening our economy

Two yellow post it notes on glass door that say Sorry We are closed and "Covid 19"

Dear friends and neighbors,

On Tuesday evening, several thousand of you joined us for a telephone town hall – thank you! Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman and Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President & CEO Tom Pierson were also on the line to help answer questions about the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.

For those who were not able to join us, the audio recording of the event is available here.

Many of the questions were about how and when our economy will begin reopening. What we know is that reopening will be strategic and intentional. Think of it as turning a dial rather than flipping a switch.

The planning process is already underway, with discussions happening between the Governor’s Office and House and Senate lawmakers. Shortly before our town hall, the governor released a recovery plan for Washington.

We will continue to keep you informed as more specifics around timelines and businesses are announced. But the key to reopening our state is a sustained decline in COVID-19 infection rates, and that means staying home as much as possible and keeping up our social distancing measures.

Beware of scams and price gouging

Yellow caution banner

The federal government has begun sending out stimulus payments to individuals and households, and that means scammers are trying to take advantage of people who are waiting for that direct deposit or check to show up. You may receive a phone call, text, or email asking for personal financial information, like your bank account number or social security number.

Here is what you need to know:

  • The government will not ask you to pay anything upfront to get stimulus money.
  • The government will not call to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number.

If you spot a scam, contact the Federal Trade Commission. The Washington State Office of the Attorney General also has consumer protection information and resources for reporting scams.

The Attorney General has also launched a “See It, Snap It, Send It” campaign to combat COVID-19 price gouging. Since March, the office has received over 400 price-gouging complaints.

Stay safe when disinfecting

Open container of disinfectant wipes with yellow plastic top

State lawmakers increased funding in the current two-year budget for the Washington Poison Center (WAPC). The WAPC helps Washingtonians with information and advice about poisoning emergencies, toxic exposures, and drug overdoses through their 24/7 toll-free helpline (800-222-1222) and through safety programs and campaigns.

Recently, the WAPC reported that harmful or toxic exposures to household cleaning products is up 23% over this time last year. Many exposures are related to COVID-19 exposure concerns. Their advice for staying safe when disinfecting:

  • Wear gloves and open windows and doors for ventilation when cleaning.
  • Do not mix cleaning products, as mixing can create hazardous gases.
  • Do not use cleaning products on food.
  • Store cleaners, household chemicals, and other potentially harmful substances in their original containers. Keep these products up high and out of reach of young children.
  • Supervise young children when using hand sanitizer, as ingestion could lead to alcohol poisoning. Store hand sanitizers up high and out of reach of children.

Looking ahead – and keeping in touch

The number of questions we received during our telephone town hall on Tuesday was far greater than we could get through on the hour-long call. Look for responses to some of these questions in upcoming e-newsletters.

We’re all in this together. Our offices are still here to serve you as we get through this challenging time. We look forward to when we can have in-person meetings again, but in the meantime please call us or send us an email with your questions, comments, or concerns.


        Rep. Fey signature

Speaker Laurie Jinkins     Rep. Jake Fey

Legislative update–and a personal invitation to our telephone town hall next week

Dear friends and neighbors,

Thank you for staying home and staying healthy during this pandemic.

We know many of you have questions about what’s happening, and what’s next when it comes to this crisis. To help answer your questions, we’re hosting a telephone town hall (with special guests – see below!).

This update also includes information about protecting seniors and your mental health.

Join us: Telephone town hall on COVID-19

The 27th District town hall is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21.

You should receive a phone call on your landline at 6 p.m. If you only have a cell phone, or otherwise want to join, please sign up here.

To help answer your COVID-19 health questions, Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman will be joining us.

And for expertise on the economic side of this problem, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President & CEO Tom Pierson will also be on the line.

We hope you can take the time to join us!

Reminder: Please take the census!

Every person counts, and every person needs to be counted.

The census helps determine how much federal funding our state receives for critical services people and families in Tacoma and across the state rely on, including public health, transportation, and education.

Visit to learn more or take the census, which is quick and easy this year, with more options on how you can take it.

Protecting seniors

African American elderly couple on couch video chatting with granddaughter.


People age 60 and above are especially vulnerable to serious complications of COVID-19, and have a higher risk of dying from it. It’s important to do all we can to protect seniors.

Gov. Jay Inslee recently issued a proclamation to protect high-risk workers, including those aged 65 and up or anyone with pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable.

There’s also a new and comprehensive resource page for seniors, which you can find here.

Your well-being is important

This crisis has put tremendous stress on families, whether you’re working from home, furloughed, laid-off, or a student trying to figure out how to continue your education.

It’s critical that you take care of your own and your family’s mental health and well-being.

Please check out our state’s new page for resources on this issue.

COVID-19’s effect on our state’s economy and budget

Please click on the photo above, or on this link, to watch Austin Jenkins’ recent interview with Speaker Laurie Jinkins on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program. She discusses what re-opening the state might look like, and whether a special legislative session is likely this year to deal with the impacts to our state budget.

Stay in touch

Your questions, ideas, and comments are important to us.

Please continue to keep in touch by email and phone–and we’ll keep giving you the latest information every week.

Stay safe,

 Rep. Fey signature

Speaker Laurie Jinkins     Rep. Jake Fey




It’s working: Flattening the curve together

hands lathered with soap

Dear friends and neighbors,

Since our last e-newsletter to you, our state has taken several more steps to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and “flatten the curve.” This includes the governor’s extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” emergency order through May 4, and an extension on school closures through the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

We recognize that while these measures will help save more lives and protect our first responders and health care workers on the front lines of this pandemic, they also place additional burdens on families and businesses.

That’s why we want to ensure you have the following information about additional steps to help unemployed workers and small businesses, and resources for families with school-age children. If you experience problems with the websites or contacts below, please let us know so we can be aware of the problems and help facilitate getting them solved.

Also, we will be hosting a telephone town hall for constituents on Tuesday, April 21 at 6:00 PM. Secretary of Health John Wiesman and Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President & CEO Tom Pierson will join us on the call to answer your questions. More details to come.

Unemployment assistance: Applying and info

Light blue banner with Employment Security Department Washington State in white lettering

The Employment Security Department (ESD) has been receiving record numbers of new claims for unemployment insurance. Many people have questions about the recent federal stimulus package and the expansions to eligibility and available benefits. We’ve heard from many of you about long wait times or inability to get through on ESD’s toll-free number, and we know this is frustrating for you.  

Because ESD is experiencing extremely high volumes of calls and emails, the best way to find out more information is to visit online resources like the ones listed below. Please do not call their toll-free numbers first. Instead:

Again, please use online resources for information. Calls to the toll-free lines need to be reserved for individuals who have unusual needs for assistance with their claims.

Here is some additional info from ESD about implementation of the federal stimulus programs included in the CARES Act:

While we are still receiving final guidance from US Department of Labor, we are already upgrading our technology systems to be able to begin accepting applications that will deliver the three main elements from the new law, including:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – expands benefits to those directly impacted by COVID-19 who are not otherwise eligible for Unemployment Insurance in Washington State. This will be available until December 26, 2020 and is retroactive to February 2, 2020
  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – increases the weekly benefit amount by $600 increase for all unemployment assistance recipients (including those already on Unemployment Insurance or participating in SharedWork). It runs until July 25, 2020 and is retroactive to March 29, 2020.
  • Pandemic Emergency Compensation – adds 13 additional weeks of benefits on top of the standard 26 weeks (if needed). It runs until December 26, 2020 and is retroactive to March 29, 2020.

Help for small businesses

wooden chairs turned upside down on tables in closed restaurant, light streaming in through window

This week, Gov. Inslee announced additional steps to help small businesses mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19:

  • The Working Washington Small Business Grant, through the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Fund and administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce with the help of county economic development organizations. The grants will provide up to $10,000 for small businesses under 10 employees. Businesses can use this money to pay for rent, utility bills, supplies, inventory and other operating expenses. To apply for an emergency grant, visit
  • Business resiliency assistance, through the Washington State Department of Commerce by partnering with organizations that serve economically disadvantaged communities across the state.
  • Forgivable loans, through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Small businesses, non-profits, independent contractors or self-employed individuals in need of financial help may be eligible for a forgivable loan from the SBA. Beginning last Friday, local banks began taking SBA applications and issuing forgivable loans. For more information go to

Update on school closures and resources for families

Empty classroom with wooden desktops, chalkboards on right side of room, white board at front of room.

On Monday, Gov. Inslee and Superintendent of Public Schools Chris Reykdal announced that all schools will remain closed for the rest of the 2019-20 school year in order to continue flattening the curve in our state.

We know this news is difficult as well as disappointing to students, families, teachers, and staff. Tacoma Public Schools maintains a dedicated web page with school closure info and resources.

Additional helpful links include:

What we’re doing in Washington to promote social distancing appears to be working. That’s why we support these additional measures like extending the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order and keeping schools closed through the end of this school year.

We were the state with the first reported COVID-19 death, but we are also leading the way on slowing the spread of this virus.

There’s no simple, easy answer to handle a crisis like this. This challenge impacts us all, some harder than others. We will get through this. And when it’s over, we’ll rebuild our economy and institutions to be stronger than before.


Laurie Jinkins signature casual  Rep. Fey signature

Speaker Laurie Jinkins    Rep. Jake Fey

Help is on the way

Dear friends and neighbors,

Before the end of the 2020 session, the COVID-19 pandemic was just hitting Washington state. We voted to spend $200 million to fight the virus.

But this battle isn’t over, and there’s more to be done.

This week, we’d like to update you about three pieces of breaking news:

• What the new federal plan will mean to us here in Washington state
• Expanded unemployment benefits
• Options and aid for small businesses

This e-newsletter is also a chance to tell you about the state’s new transportation budget, written by Rep. Fey and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee this week.

New funding in our state

The latest relief package passed by Congress is a huge boost to state and local programs.

It won’t fix every problem, and there may be additional actions that lawmakers in Congress—and in Olympia—need to take before this is over. 

For now, the new federal funding is a good first step toward winning a long war against this virus. 

Here’s the estimated breakdown of funding coming to Washington state: 

  • State Coronavirus Relief Fund—$1.624 billion for state government and $1.329 billion for local governments for a total of $2.953 billion, which goes directly to our state and local public health systems, personal protective equipment, human services, and more; 
  • Child Care Development Block Grant—$58.2 million toward helping childcare providers during this unprecedented crisis; 
  • Community Services Block Grant—$11.8 million for local community-based organizations providing social services and emergency assistance to those with the highest need; 
  • Low-income heating assistance program—$11.1 million to offer help to those who need assistance paying their utility bills; and
  • Education Stabilization Fund—$56.6 million, along with $216.9 million for elementary and secondary education to help schools purchase technology to support online learning, plan and coordinate school closures, and other emergency needs due to COVID-19

Help for workers, businesses, and families

The state unemployment insurance system has become more flexible during this COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the biggest things to know about: 

  • More people are eligible for assistance today, including the self-employed, part-time workers and people in the gig economy — please check the state unemployment page for workers and sign up for alerts for the latest news
  • Benefits will increase by $600 per week through the end of July; 
  • An additional 13 weeks of eligibility are added; and 
  • Job search requirements are relaxed and now optional, as the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order makes it hard for people to look for work. 

For businesses, there are also changes to help get through this crisis: 

  • Reduced tax impacts for businesses who utilize state unemployment insurance programs; 
  • Relaxed penalties and fees for employers and workers who miss key deadlines due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and 
  • SharedWork allows businesses to reduce worker hours without having to lay them off, with the option of reducing hours by 10 percent to 50 percent while having Unemployment Insurance provide partial wage replacement for those reduced hours. 

Help for families coming from the CARES Act includes a $1,200 per person check for those making under $75,000 a year and $2,400 for a married couple who file jointly earning $150,000 or less. There’s an additional $500 per child. 

For small businesses, the Small Business Administration offers small business guidance and loan assistance online on the SBA website for COVID-19 response. There are also several programs and other relief options that can help during this difficult time:

Special Enrollment Period for Washington Healthplanfinder Extended to May 8

hands lathered with soap

Responding to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange is giving families more time to find the right plan for them if they find themselves suddenly uninsured due to a change in status, such as losing a job that provided health insurance coverage. Originally this special enrollment period was set to end on April 8, but is now extended another month. If you or a loved one is in sudden need of coverage, please visit

A transportation budget that keeps Washington moving

With the governor’s assistance, we produced a good transportation budget that successfully dealt with the impacts of Initiative 976, which reduced revenue by almost half a billion dollars. That budget (House Bill 2322 by Rep. Fey) passed the House 96-1 and the Senate 48-0.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have bigger consequences than Initiative 976. Right now, the projects funded by the new budget are on pause.

When the crisis is over and construction resumes, there’s a lot to be happy about in the new transportation budget, including full funding for the green transportation efforts originally put in motion in 2019. That blueprint is designed to help move Washington state toward cleaner, more sustainable ways to move people and goods throughout our state.

Please take the census!

It’s important for Washington state, the 27th District–and your family–that you fill out the 2020 census.

Every person counts, and every person needs to be counted.

The census also helps determine how much funding we receive to help the people of Washington state.

For the first time, you can take the census online, by mail or by phone.

Visit to learn more or take the census, which is quick and easy this year.

Staying in touch

With so much happening due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will try to keep you informed with regular updates, especially when they may help your family or business.

Please stay in touch–and stay safe out there!


Laurie Jinkins signature casualRep. Fey signature

Speaker Laurie Jinkins    Rep. Jake Fey

An update on the novel coronavirus/COVID-19

hands lathered with soap

Dear friends and neighbors,

Washington state is experiencing an increase in cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), including several deaths. It is anticipated that the virus will continue to spread. As your legislator, and someone who’s spent my career in public health, I want to make sure you have the facts and understand the basics on how to stay healthy.

First, health officials are working rapidly to identify and test people who may have been exposed. Public health officials in our state have experience responding to pandemics and are working with state and county health officials to share information, deploy resources, and respond at maximum capacity. I know our local Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department is mobilized to respond to this evolving situation.

Second, currently the risk to the general public is low due to the unlikelihood of exposure to the virus. Risk of exposure is elevated for healthcare workers, people who have had close contact with persons with COVID-19, and travelers returning from affected international locations (China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Japan, and Hong Kong).

Third, understand how to best protect yourself and your family, and what to do if you think you may have been exposed. The graphic below is from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, and I find it simple and helpful:

You can also call the Washington State Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

Stay up to date through the DOH website and social media channels below:

How Can I be Prepared?

What the Legislature is doing to respond to COVID-19:

In the House, Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Schmick, Chair and Ranking Member of the Health Care & Wellness Committee respectively, have offered a bipartisan bill to transfer $50 million to get state agencies and local governments the necessary funding to respond to COVID-19. It will also give the Department of Social and Health Services funding to increase nursing staff to help address this growing need. We’ll continue to work with DOH, DSHS, and other state agencies to identify what the Legislature can do to ensure the necessary resources are available to respond to this outbreak.

We are all in this together. Please make sure to follow the health department recommendations to keep yourself healthy and stay informed of what’s happening in our community. I’ll keep you updated on the status of our efforts in the Legislature to respond.


Laurie Jinkins signature casual

Cutoff week and town hall reminder

Speaker Jinkins at podium speaking to attendees at African American Legislative Day at the capitol
Speaking to citizen advocates on African American Legislative Day at the state capitol: “Our diverse voices at the table make better laws, better policy.”

Dear friends and neighbors,

It’s a busy week at the state capitol! Yesterday, February 19, was “House of Origin cutoff.” That’s the final date for bills to be voted out of their chamber of origin if they are continuing to move forward this session. There is one exception to this cutoff: any legislation necessary to implement the state budget.

We’ve passed a lot of great bills here in the House, addressing housing and homelessness, health care, climate change, and more. This newsletter features a couple of great bills that made it through cutoff, and you can find out about many more at the town hall meeting I’m hosting this coming Saturday, February 22, with Rep. Jake Fey and Sen. Jeannie Darneille. Join us from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Eastside Community Center, 1721 E. 56th Street, Tacoma. (Sign-in begins at 9:30 a.m.)

Your ideas and feedback are always welcome. Please reach out anytime. It’s an honor to serve as your representative.


Honoring our promise to Washington’s students

Bill signing in the governor's office for SB 6492 - legislators and advocates surround governor and applaud

Last year, the Legislature passed the Workforce Education Investment Act, which makes public college tuition-free for families making up to $50,000/year and provides partial financial aid for other low- and middle-income students. This investment fully funds the Washington College Grant (formerly the State Need Grant), meaning every student who qualifies for the grant will receive it.

But there’s more. It also funds the Guided Pathways programs at our community and technical colleges, like Tacoma Community College. Guided Pathways is a highly successful effort that helps ensure students who enroll at our state’s public two-year institutions have a clearly defined path to successfully complete a degree or certificate, preparing them for the great jobs our economy is creating.

And there’s even more! The Workforce Education Investment Act also expands enrollment in high-demand fields like nursing, engineering and computer science. Thanks to this investment, Tacoma Community College was able to increase compensation for nursing educators, enabling them to retain high-quality faculty to train students for high demand, good-paying health care jobs.

As the parent of a college student, I’m thrilled our state has expanded access to college and apprenticeships for thousands of Washingtonians in this way.

So, that was last year. What did we do this year?

The Workforce Education Investment is working so well across the state that we have more students wanting to go to school or go back to school than we expected. That’s why the House and Senate passed a bill to simplify and improve the way we collect the funding for these programs, making it easier for businesses to comply, and keeping our promise to Washington’s students.

The governor signed the bill into law on February 10.

Connecting students with environmental education

Children standing with signs in a crowd at rally

In my opening day speech, I called on my fellow lawmakers to be the leaders our state, our country, and our planet need to protect our future before it’s too late.

Children and students are particularly worried about the challenges facing our planet, feeling lost and unsure about what they can do to secure their future in the face of unsustainable practices and climate change. These young leaders are imploring politicians to do more, and it’s time we listen.

That’s why I’m excited about House Bill 2811, which was voted off the House floor last week. It brings climate science, global and local environmental impacts, and localized, project-based learning into the classrooms of Washington state.

This bill helps set up a new curriculum for students to learn about how the environment impacts them, their health, and what opportunities there are after high school to pursue jobs in sustainability, renewable energy, climate justice, conservation, and engineering.

Coming on the heels of our nation-leading 100 percent clean electricity bill last year, this legislation connects students directly to their environment and educates them to be part of the solution, which includes transitioning to a clean energy economy.

I’m also happy we passed House Bill 2311, which aligns our state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets with the latest climate science. These targets haven’t been updated since 2008, even though our scientific knowledge about climate change has evolved since then. This bill will help us make better environmental policy decisions based on vetted information.

Local arts organization receives state award

Two glass artwork globes, one white one red
Glass art made by youth from Hilltop Artists

One of the highlights of my week is being able to present the award for Washington State Organization of the Year to Tacoma’s own Hilltop Artists in a ceremony today at the Governor’s Mansion.

This award is an annual honor chosen by the state Lieutenant Governor and the Association of Washington Generals. It recognizes an organization that “…has made a significant and sustained positive impact in the state.”

Since Hilltop Artists is based right here in the 27th Legislative District, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office has invited me to present the award to them, and I am honored to oblige.

Congratulations to Hilltop Artists, who provide arts education and support services to hundreds of at-risk youth each year in our community, including in their year-round programs at Jason Lee Middle School and Wilson High School.

One last reminder: