Bills intended to help Washington state’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic received Gov. Jay Inslee’s signature Friday, February 19, as the governor made three bills approved by the Washington State Legislature into law during a signing that day.
During the second round of bill signings for the 2021 legislative session, Inslee signed House Bill 1368, House Bill 1095, and House Bill 1367. HB 1368 was the broadest of the bills, earmarking billions in funding designed to “provide relief, recovery, and resilience to help Washingtonians across these troubled waters,” the governor said.
The governor said the bill allocates $714 million to K-12 education; $618 million for public health response efforts, including testing, contact tracing, and ongoing vaccination efforts; $365 million for emergency eviction, rental, and utility assistance; $240 million in business assistance grants; $50 million for childcare; $26 million for food banks; and $91 million for income assistance, including $65 million for immigrant populations.
The governor said the eviction, rental and utility aspect of the bill helped families to avoid homelessness, landlords to have stability in revenue, “and it’s the right time to be doing it,” Inslee remarked. He said the business relief was necessary to help the economic casualties brought on by the state’s effort to prevent human ones.
“We have saved thousands of lives in Washington state, and I’m hoping this now helps thousands of businesses,” Inslee remarked.
The governor said that “Washingtonians have been exemplary in leading the fight against the COVID pandemic,” adding that the successes the state has had “has not come without economic and emotional costs associated with fighting a pandemic.”
“This process of getting to a post-pandemic era has just begun,” Inslee said, “and we intend to come out of this pandemic stronger, in part because of this legislation.”
The other bills were more targeted in their intentions. House Bill 1095 ensures individuals and businesses paid no tax on COVID-19 emergency assistance grants, helping both “receive the most-possible benefits from this money,” Inslee remarked. House Bill 1367 modifies funding sources for certain Medicaid-eligible COVID-19-related expenses that long-term care facilities incurred during 2020. The governor said that the bill would not cost the state any additional funds.