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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this letter finds you healthy and well. I know these are trying times and that so many of you are hurting from the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. I also know words can only do so much under these difficult circumstances.

My heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones to the virus. Losing someone you love is never easy and we feel the impact of every loss. It's my greatest hope that we can stop the spread of the virus and prevent any further suffering.

I want you to know that I am concerned about your welfare, including your economic situation. You are in my thoughts and prayers daily. As your state representative, I am doing everything I can to help improve our state's outlook for you and your family.

Also, it is important you know that things are getting better. We are headed in the right direction and we have slowed the virus. Our social distancing efforts are working. Everyone deserves a huge thank you for putting the greater good of the population over their own personal desires.

At the same time, the economic hardship is real and there has been some talk of a special session, which would be intended to designate more state funds towards economic recovery. I am prepared to attend a special session, either virtually, or in person if we are called back to Olympia. However, if we were to hold a special session it would need to be focused and limited in its scope.

Our Small Businesses Need Help

I will continue to support social distancing and wearing masks so we can get our small businesses un-shuttered and their doors open again.

Many companies, especially small businesses, will never be able to reopen and hundreds of thousands of workers will have to look for new employment. With very few companies hiring we need to act NOW.

I am not calling for an across-the-board return to normal life. Obviously, we cannot just go back to the way things were before the virus. That would be a mistake. But I strongly believe many of our businesses and employees can safely return to work now, without causing a spike in cases if we maintain current safety measures.

I agree with the governor's phased approached to reopening our state, but I think it would be much more prudent to have weekly check-ins, instead of waiting for three or four weeks. And I also think we should allow EVERY county to move forward at a pace that best fits their individual situation.

We must continue to be vigilant, but we also need to start focusing on getting Washingtonians back to work. People are not only losing their jobs; they are losing their livelihoods.

Please look at the Legislative Republicans' Safe Economic Restart Plan, which recognizes the importance of all businesses and employees, and not just those deemed essential by the governor.

Doing What's Best for All of Washington

I've received many questions about the possibility of increased taxes to make up for lost state revenue. I oppose this. Businesses, families, and individuals cannot afford any additional taxes as we all work to recover from the fallout of COVID-19. We need to spend our set-aside surplus and our rainy-day funds and stop additional spending. We cannot not ask for more tax dollars from people who are already struggling.

We must also put politics aside and put the good of the state and its residents before anything else.

Finally, I want to express my feelings of hope. Despite the despair that many people feel, there are numerous positive signs. We have seen a flattening of the curve, our hospitals have the capacity to treat and care for those infected with the virus, and we are moving in the right direction. I know many people are still hurting, but we cannot give up.

This pandemic will not defeat us. We can overcome this, and we will recover. It will take effort and persistence, but we will succeed.

Plans for the Interim

I also want to take this opportunity to let you know this will be my last update for several months, unless we're called to a special session. This is an election year, which means due to state restrictions, I cannot send updates until after the November election is certified. However, you can still contact me with questions, concerns, and input.

As your public servant, I am still available to meet with you either in-person, when restrictions are lifted, or over the phone. Please continue to reach out to me. I always appreciate your input.

Stay safe, be healthy, wash your hands and know that I am working on your behalf all year long. I will continue to be your voice in Olympia for the 17th District.

It's an honor to serve.

Helpful Coronavirus Resources and Information

House Republican Caucus coronavirus website. This site is a comprehensive list of resources and I'd encourage you to bookmark it for easy access.

Washington State Coronavirus Response (COVID-19)

Employment Security Department:

U.S. Small Business Administration:

Department of Commerce:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Department of Labor:

Department of Revenue:

Department of Financial Institutions:

Department of Labor & Industries:

Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave:

Sincerely,


Paul Harris

State Representative Paul Harris, 17th Legislative District
RepresentativePaulHarris.com
426A Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
paul.harris@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7976 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000