Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope this email finds you and your family healthy. We live in tough times right now. Most of us have not experienced anything like our current reality and this full societal and economic shutdown.
In this update, I will provide you with the current economic and restart plans that are on the table to get Washington state back to normal. But first, I would like to encourage everyone to take a few minutes to fill out the short questionnaire for the 2020 Census.
I have proudly served as one of your Republican lawmakers on the Legislative Census Committee. With the dire financial shadow looming over us because of COVID-19, now more than ever is the time to ensure our communities and population are accurately counted so our hard-earned federal tax dollars rightfully come back to our state and district.
The Census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for our communities. The data helps determine the funding levels for our communities for things such as hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other essential services.
The results of the Census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and to draw congressional and state legislative districts.
For more information, and to fill out your short questionnaire, please visit https://2020census.gov/
- During a press conference on Friday, May 1, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health announced the extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order until May 31, and potentially longer. During this briefing, the governor also announced the Washington state economy will take a four-phased approach in its efforts to reopen.
- Low-risk construction projects may resume with safety measures in place. What this means is any ongoing construction or building project put on hold at the start of the COVID-19 restrictions will now be allowed to resume.
- As of Tuesday May 5, Washingtonians can resume fishing, hunting, and golfing statewide. Day trips to most state parks and public lands will also be allowed, as long as you stay close to home. Everyone must continue to follow all COVID-19 guidelines, including social distancing of at least 6-feet between one another.
All of our state's reopening activities will depend on the continued success in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and by meeting these four capabilities:
- Health care system readiness
- Testing capacity
- Ability to do contact investigations
- Ability to protect high-risk populations
We are in Phase 1. The governor has already allowed some construction to resume as well as reopening of some recreational activities including day use at state parks, playing golf, fishing and hunting starting Tuesday, May 5. Officials are working with industries to develop new protocols that could soon allow for retail curbside pickup, car washes, landscaping and house cleaning services, and drive-in spiritual services with one household per vehicle.
There have been some public safety concerns leading up to Phase 1. Unfortunately, Gov. Inslee thought he could stop the outbreak of COVID-19 in our state's correctional facilities by releasing thousands of felons back into our communities with no regard to public safety. Several of these inmates have already committed new crimes since their release.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sen. Mike Padden on KONA Radio to talk about the governor's decision to release felons early. You can listen to our interview by clicking here.
Per the governor's order, when the COVID-19 burden is lower, deaths continues a downward decline, and the four capabilities described above are met, he will then move the state into Phase 2. I'm assuming the same standards will apply to Phase 3 and 4. The governor has stated there will be a three-week period in between each phase to ensure the state is not opening too quickly. It seems we are a long ways out before our state will start to feel somewhat normal again.
Phase 2: Additional expansions of outdoor recreation activities would be allowed, as well as small gatherings of five or fewer people, new construction and in-store retail purchases with health restrictions. Barber shops and salons could reopen. Restaurants could reopen with 50% capacity and table size no larger than five. Some professional services and offices could open up as well, even though teleworking would remain strongly encouraged. Pet care services including grooming could resume.
Phase 3: Gatherings of 50 people or less, including sports activities, would be allowed, and non-essential travel could resume. Restaurants could move up to 75% capacity and tables up to 10 people, and bars at 25% capacity; gyms and movie theaters could reopen at 50% capacity; retail, libraries, museums and government buildings could reopen. Recreational facilities like pools could open at 50% capacity. Nightclubs and entertainment venues would still not be able to reopen.
Phase 4: Would involve resuming the majority of public interactions. Gatherings of more than 50 people would be allowed, but still while practicing physical distancing.
Also, smaller counties could reopen sooner than the above timeline. Very small counties with low to no COVID-19 activity will be able to apply for a variance to the Washington State Department of Health to reopen quicker. As of May 1, the Department of Health (DOH) has determined that ten counties are eligible at this time: Pend Oreille, Ferry, Lincoln, Columbia, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Kittitas, Skamania and Wahkiakum. State officials are evaluating data to see whether other counties could potentially be considered as well.
Did you know the governor's plan is not the only plan on the table to get Washington state back to work?
Many of you continue to contact my office asking what my colleagues and I have been doing in response to the governor's actions. Republicans have brought forward several plans before the governor made his announcement on May 1.
My Republican colleagues in both the House and Senate have put together the Legislative Republicans' Safe Economic Restart Plan. This plan was introduced on April 17.
Our plan has three sets of actions – immediate action to be taken right now; legislative action to be taken in a special session; and actions to be taken with 6-12 months of the lifting the business closure order – to enable the safe restart of Washington's economy and promote its continued recovery over the long term.
In a recent statement I released, I urged the governor to stop his one-size-fits all approach to opening our state and give the reigns to our local elected officials who know our communities best. It is time he works together with our local governments rather than providing a blanket solution that does not serve our communities. You can read my statement by clicking here.
In conjunction with my above request, I have also signed onto a letter supporting my colleague, Rep. Chris Gildon's plan to decentralize some of the governor's decision-making capabilities. I support giving local governments the authority on the best ways to open their communities, especially our local elected officials in the 16th District.
Two more of my colleagues, Reps. Jesse Young and Jim Walsh have introduced the “BOISE” plan seeking to allow shuttered businesses the opportunity to quickly earn back much-needed lost revenue and increase their short-term margin. Their plan was introduced on April 29 and legislation is currently being drafted for consideration should we have a special session.
Republicans are working hard for you and doing all we can to bring forward plans that will get Washington back to work safely and timely. Unfortunately, our efforts are being ignored by the governor.
THANK YOU! | Recent telephone town hall
Recently, Rep. Skyler Rude and I held a telephone town hall focused on the state's response to COVID-19, and your overall questions and concerns.
I want to thank everyone of you who took the time to participate in the call with us. We definitely felt your frustrations surrounding the stay-at-home order; why you aren't allowed to reopen your business; and the continued divide between what's best for the west side of the state, and our east side of the state.
If there is anything I can do to help, please don't hesitate to contact my office at (509) 492-4648. You can also email me at Bill.Jenkin@leg.wa.gov. My Legislative Assistant, Marge, is also here to assist you with whatever you need. You can email her at Marge.Plumage@leg.wa.gov. I encourage you to reach out. We are here for you.
It's an honor to serve you.