E-Newsletter: Advancing a Recovery Plan for Washington, a Bold New Transportation Package, and a Vaccine Update


Last week saw a transition of power in our federal government, a step toward stability and democracy and away from corruption and chaos. I was in a meeting about ending unnecessary fossil fuel tax subsidies at the fateful moment that our new president was sworn in.  Later that day the House Democrats caucus planned our legislative strategy to pass our first bills off of the floor at about the time that President Biden got to work, and immediately rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and World Health Organization, ended the shameful Muslim ban, reinvigorated our promise to Dreamers, and mandated masks on planes, trains, and federal property. I am so excited that our state has a full partner in the federal government again. There’s a lot that needs to be fixed right now, but we can expect to work together. The challenges in front of us won’t be easy, but because we made this change, I know that real solutions are possible.

Update from the Health Department

Dr. Umair Shah

Last week House Democrats had an hour-long conversation with our new Secretary of Health, Umair Shah. The good news is that vaccines are getting to the people in Washington most in need as quickly as they come in. Data collection is slower than we wish, but we are confident that the partners we have are getting about 15,000 vaccinations done per day. We need to get much faster than that in the next month, and there are good plans to keep ramping up.

For those unsure about when they qualify for a vaccine and how to get one, you can use the Department of Health’s Phase Finder Tool. After answering a simple set of questions, the tool will let you know if you are eligible for a vaccine. If you are not yet eligible for a vaccine, you can sign up to be texted or emailed when you are eligible to receive the vaccine..

We’ve been asked to urge people not to call healthcare providers. Hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed by the volume of these calls right now. For more information on the vaccine go to https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/COVID19/Vaccine.

Transportation Plan


Last week House Democrats released a draft of our $26 billion transportation plan. I recently joined the House Transportation Committee and have found myself in the midst of one of the most comprehensive listening sessions in state history. Over the past few months, my colleagues have organized more than 90 meetings with stakeholder groups around the state to learn about people’s priorities and goals. The plan we released reflects what they have learned. This package would also be unique in that it would not require any new bonding, which will save Washington taxpayers over the long run.

This new package will include:

  • $8 billion in multimodal investment
  • $6.7 billion in new road-related investments
  • $1 billion for the Interstate Replacement Bridge connecting Washington and Oregon and enabling transit to span the Columbia River
  • $4.6 billion for maintenance and preservation of existing infrastructure
  • Significant investments to reduce carbon, including alternative fuels, electrification of vehicle fleets, and increased spending for mass transit, special needs transportation, and bike/pedestrian projects.
  • Major investments in ferry electrification and a commitment to continue modernizing our ferry fleet

Step One Recovery Plan

Last week, House and Senate Democrats announced a $2.2 billion early action COVID-19 relief bill. This bill will immediately allocate federal funding toward the COVID-19 response, including relief for renters, small businesses, school districts, and childcare providers, plus money for vaccine distribution.

The bill includes:

  • $618 million for vaccine administration, contact tracing, and testing
  • $325 million for rental assistance for direct rent and utility payments
  • $668 million in direct grants to school districts
  • $240 million in small business grants
  • $50 million in grants and incentives for childcare providers
  • $31 million for additional food assistance
  • $65 million for immigrant relief assistance
  • $5 million in grants for financial aid to undocumented students

Democrats’ top priority is to get relief out to people who have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. This package is being fast tracked through the House this week.

In Service,

Rep. Alex Ramel