Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As of this week, most K-12 schools are open for hybrid learning, all adults are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and the 2021 remote legislative session is coming to a close. From now until Sunday, April 25, we will be working to wrap up this year’s legislative work, finalizing our operating, transportation, and capital budgets, and finishing the concurrence process.
Investing in Working Families
In these final weeks of session, the Legislature has approved two significant pieces of legislation that start us down the path toward progressive tax reform and will invest in Washington’s working families, helping them build economic stability.
Yesterday, the House passed Senate Bill 5096, to enact a capital gains excise tax to fund early learning, child care, and K-12 education. The bill, similar to the House version I introduced earlier this session, implements a 7% tax on the sale of stocks, bonds, and other long-term capital assets, with the first $250,000 in profits exempted annually. Designed to avoid taxing working families, it includes several additional exemptions, such as all real estate, retirement accounts, and qualified family-owned small businesses.
This new tax is a progressive tool that asks the wealthiest Washingtonians – only around 8,000 of the total 3.2 million taxpayers in our state – to share more equitably in the responsibility of funding the programs and services our communities need. It will bolster economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19 and the economic well-being of working families by funding expanded access to affordable, high-quality child care (through my policy, the Fair Start for Kids Act!) and our paramount duty to provide an education to Washington’s kids.
Last Thursday, the House concurred with Senate amendments and sent the Working Families Tax Exemption (WFTE) to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. This legislation, sponsored by my seatmate Rep. My-Linh Thai, sets up a sales tax rebate of between $500 and $950 for which over 400,000 taxpayers in our state will be eligible. This will put more money directly into the pockets of these working families, and is a critical tool to help build economic stability for families at the lowest end of the income spectrum who pay a disproportionate amount of their income to taxes.
Together, these two policies are a significant first step toward balancing our regressive tax code and supporting the economic well-being of working families in every corner of our state.
Vaccine eligibility now includes all adults 16+
Find a vaccine near you!
Everyone 16 and older in Washington is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine as of Thursday, April 15th! Use the Vaccine Locator to find out where you can get the vaccine near you at VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov or call 1-800-525-0127.
¡Encuentre una vacuna cerca de usted!
¡Toda la gente de 16 años o más en Washington ya califica para recibir la vacuna contra el COVID-19 a partir del 15 de abril! Visite VaccineLocator.doh.wa.gov o llame al 1-800-525-0127 para encontrar un sitio cerca de usted donde pueda vacunarse.
COVID-19 Assistance and Relief
There are some important relief programs that have recently become available detailed below. It takes all of us working together to ensure every corner of our communities have the support they need to recover.
Rental Assistance: King County is launching another round of help for renters and landlords this month. If you’re a tenant who is behind on rent or a landlord with tenants behind on rent, visit this link for more information about the Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program and to sign up for updates.
Immigrant Relief Fund: The Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund was created to support people who are ineligible for unemployment benefits or federal stimulus money. Applications for this one-time grant of $1,000 per person will be accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis, and will be open from April 21 until May 21, 2021, with the funds distributed in June. Learn more about who can apply and how to apply by visiting immigrantreliefwa.org or calling the hotline 844-724-373 available daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Information in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Swahili and Garifuna available here.
- Upcoming Business Assistance: Included in the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was additional funding for targeted assistance programs through the Small Business Administration (SBA), such as the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and the newly created Restaurant Revitalization Fund. To find out if your business qualifies for assistance and for more information on when and how to apply for these programs, visit the SBA website.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me this session with your questions, concerns, or comments. We will get through these hardest of times together.
Rep. Tana Senn