Upcoming town hall, my first bills and recovery step one

Friends and neighbors,

Mark your calendars! I’ll be holding my first telephone town hall alongside Rep. Sharon Shewmake on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. We’ll be giving an update on the legislative session and taking your questions. You can sign up to get a call here, or dial 877-229-8493 (PIN:118322) to join in when the event starts. I hope to see you there.

Bills for struggling families and small businesses

Small businesses aren’t just businesses. They’re our neighbors and friends. They’re the places we go to make memories, celebrate and connect with those we love. And right now, they’re struggling. That’s why I introduced a bill to give our small businesses a boost.

My bill, HB 1279, would expand the Main Street Program, which helps revitalize downtowns and support local small businesses. Since 2011, this program has helped generate more than $550 million in sales for Main Street businesses across Washington state, supporting over 6,400 jobs. I’ll be testifying about the bill on Monday at 10 a.m. Tune in at TVW.org.

I also introduced a bill, HB 1221, to standardize the definition of child homelessness to make it easier to help families experiencing homelessness. I encourage you to watch this moving testimony from Nawiishtunmi Nightgun, housing director at Wellspring Family Services, at the 19:30 mark. You can also catch my testimony at the 9 minute mark. HB 1221 was voted out of committee on Wednesday with bipartisan support.

We couldn’t have prepared for the devastation and uncertainty brought on by this crisis. Here’s some of the bills I’m co-sponsoring to bring much-needed relief to our community:

HB 1332: Defers property tax payments for those struggling most during the pandemic.

HB 1098: Gives a break to struggling businesses by reducing the proposed unemployment insurance rate increase while still allowing the fund to grow for future unemployment needs.

HB 1002: Provides a B&O tax exemption for COVID-19 relief grants.

Step one for community and economic recovery

Last week, House and Senate Democrats announced the first step towards community and economic recovery, starting with allocating $2.2 billion in federal funds to help families and small businesses most impacted by the pandemic, including renters, small restaurants, neighborhood businesses, school districts, uninsured and underinsured people, and Black and Brown communities, which have been disproportionately hurt by this crisis.

Here’s some of the plan’s highlights:

Boosting public health: $618 million for vaccine administration, contact tracing and testing. Whatcom County needs more help than we’re getting today. That’s why, when this proposal passes into law, I’ll ask the state Department of Health to prioritize getting Whatcom caught up and on track to get vaccinations out sooner.

Keeping people in their homes and fed: $365 million for rental assistance and foreclosure assistance, and for small landlords to stay on top of their mortgages. The plan also includes $52 million for food and cash assistance.

Investing in small businesses: $240 million for small businesses and non-profits.

Getting students caught up: $714 million for schools to address learning loss, keep teachers on the payroll and get ready to bring kids back to the classroom when it’s safe to do so. The plan also includes $50 million for grants for child care providers.

Supporting all Washingtonians: $70 million for long-term care and developmental disabilities programs and $6 million for health care for those who are underinsured and uninsured. The plan also includes $65 million for immigrant relief assistance and $5 million for emergency financial aid for undocumented college students.









Thanks for reading! Please don’t hesitate to reach out at 360-746-3744 or Alicia.Rule@leg.wa.gov. It’s an honor to serve the 42nd Legislative District.

Alicia Rule