Newsletter: Anti-Asian violence, Capital Budget, small biz grants, Insurance Commissioner credit scores rule, and electrical work

Condemning anti-Asian violence

I join my colleagues in the Legislature, and people around our state and country, in condemning the alarming rise in anti-Asian hate and violence. These words from Rep. My-Linh Thai continue to resonate with me:

Anti-Asian violence Thai statement


House proposes historic $5.7 billion construction budget to rebuild our economy

construction vertical

The 2021-23 capital budget proposed by House Democrats would break the record for total investments and put tens of thousands of people to work rebuilding the economy.

Federal funding helps, with the proposed budget (HB 1080) including $400 million in federal funding for investments in water, sewer, and broadband service along with $189 million for critical capital budget projects enabling work, education, health monitoring, and other items related to responding to the pandemic.

A total of $48.5 million would go toward grants and loans for early learning facilities. Public schools would receive $969.9 million, while community colleges get $299.8 million and public universities are set for $678.9 million in construction funding. The largest project is the construction of the Behavioral Health Teaching Facility at the University of Washington ($191.3 million).

This proposal also sets new records for investments in housing ($240 million), early learning ($48 million), and broadband internet access ($155 million).

By comparison, the 2015-17 budget included $75 million for housing, $15.5 million for early learning facilities, and $10 million for broadband.

Read the press release here, or get full details about the budget here. You can also find district project lists and maps.


Small business grant applications opened TODAY

The Department of Commerce is launching a new round of Working Washington small business grants on Monday, March 29th. This new round of grants is focused on brick-and-mortar businesses that have been most directly impacted by public health measures. To see if your business may be eligible, please go to commercegrants.com.

Commerce’s technical support center is currently open to answer any questions and starting on March 29th they will be providing assistance in multiple languages. You can contact them by calling (855) 602-2722 or emailing commercegrants@submittable.com. Trusted community organizations are also providing translation and individualized guidance and their contact information is available through this directory.

small biz grants

This round of Working Washington grants is possible because we approved $240 million in January as part of an early action bill. That bill also included hundreds of millions of dollars to boost public health, keep people in their homes, get students caught up, keep food on the table, and a whole host of other things. It was step one in our plan for community and economic recovery and we are now focused on the next steps in our plan to ensure we recover together.


Insurers will no longer use credit scores to set rates, at least temporarily

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler recently issued a temporary emergency rule banning insurers from using credit scores to set rates for personal property insurance.

The Insurance Commissioner took this route after a bill he had requested to permanently ban credit scoring failed to receive a vote in the Senate before the required deadline.

Commissioner Kreidler said that the practice by the insurance industry of using credit scores is unfair and discriminatory, and that his order will help consumers as they recover from the pandemic.

In the announcement, the agency states that the order is necessary to prevent discriminatory pricing in auto, renters and homeowner insurance in anticipation of the end of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which placed a temporary hold on the reporting of certain negative credit information.

Kreidler said that credit scoring is inherently unfair, especially to people with lower incomes and communities of color. In Washington state, insurers charge good drivers with low credit scores nearly 80% more for mandatory auto insurance.

Insurers credit scores

The emergency rule takes effect immediately and lasts for 120 days, but Kreidler is undertaking standard rulemaking to maintain these protections after the rule expires.

Read more about the emergency rule here.


Electrical work is a matter of safety

Yesterday we spent a few hours on the House Floor passing some bills, including Senate Bill 5267, which will ensure that when you purchase a flipped property you won’t have to worry about whether or not the electrical work was done properly. Click below for my Floor remarks.

sells from the floor

Thank you for reading my newsletter.  If you need more information on any of the issues discussed here, or on any other legislative matter, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.

Stop by my official Facebook page for frequent updates.

Sincerely,

Sells sig