Safe Economic Restart Plan

2020 interim • April 24, 2020 

The Current -- 2017 legislative session

Dear Friend: 

I hope this letter finds you healthy and well in these uncertain times. A lot has happened since the last time I reached out to you. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you some updates and share information on various proposals that have been put forward. Thank you for reading.  

Good news/bad news  

It appears our personal and collective sacrifices have changed the trajectory of the coronavirus in our state’s favor. Data from our Department of Health shows our actions have slowed the spread of the disease. It appears the worst-case scenarios will not happen, which is reflected in the governor’s decision to return the federal government’s field hospital that was set up at the CenturyLink Field Event Center. This is good news.

The bad news: Our state still does not have a clear and comprehensive plan to restart its economy. And it is causing a lot of frustration and angst – including people who want to know when they can go back to work, business owners who want to know when they can re-open, and individuals who want to know when the state will deliver their unemployment benefits. Livelihoods are on the line. 

In addition to economic anxiety, Washingtonians are dealing with isolation, in need of elective surgeries and other health care, and want to know when they can go fishing, hunting, boating, camping and golfing again. They need hope. They need some sense of normalcy.

Washington’s Recovery Plan

The governor did reveal a proposal at a news conference on Wednesday called Washington’s Recovery Plan. However, it produced more questions than answers. One columnist summed it up best when she said: “ didn’t sound like a plan. He described the beginning of a planning process that should have started months ago, with a promise to let us know more in the next couple of weeks.” You can read the full column here.

But please judge for yourself. You can learn more about Washington’s Recovery Plan at this website.

Western States Pact

The governor also announced a Western States Pact with Oregon and California on April 13. This caught a lot of people off guard. What I find interesting is these two states have allowed more sectors of their economies to function during the coronavirus crisis compared to Washington.

I think we are all interested in what will happen with this pact. I can tell you Republicans have concerns about the fate of our state’s economy being tied to the decisions and views of governors and bureaucrats from other states. I believe these decisions should be made with input from state lawmakers and stakeholders from Washington.

If you are interested in what’s happening in Idaho, its governor recently released a plan called: Idaho Rebounds: Our Path to Prosperity.  

Safe Economic Restart Plan

If you are going to offer criticism, I believe it’s important to offer contrast. Last Friday, Republicans in the Legislature released the Safe Economic Restart Plan. We have been working on various concepts for weeks. And continue to.  

Our plan has three sets of actions to enable the safe restart of Washington’s economy and promote its continued recovery over the long term. Some proposals would require legislative action in a special session.

This is a working document. We welcome your feedback and constructive criticism.

As I said in a news release: “We are looking forward to working with the governor and majority party to produce the best possible results for both our public health and our economic crisis.” Here are some news stories on our plan:

Unemployment assistance

Just a month ago, our state economy was riding high and unemployment was low. Today, there is an unprecedented demand for unemployment benefits and uncertainty on when they will be delivered. According to this story, state officials believe total claims could rise to one million by the end of the week.

The Employment Security Department (ESD), the agency responsible for administering unemployment benefits, is struggling with demand as it expands capacity and updates systems. The agency is asking for patience as it processes through these changes. I know this is frustrating and unsettling to people who have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own, and have bills to pay and families to support. 

Here are some helpful links people can use to navigate our unemployment system:


The record number of people seeking unemployment benefits reflects the difficult decisions and hardships of our employers. Our businesses have faced economic downturns in the past, but nothing like this in terms of speed and depth. The dreams of so many of our entrepreneurs have turned into nightmares.  

Many of these challenges began when the governor’s "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" proclamation designated a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.” This list created a lot of confusion and questions. While I give the governor credit for providing subsequent guidance and clarification in some areas, his list is still causing a lot of concerns and resentment across our state.

Construction update 

While I hear many, the complaint I hear the most is why the governor has allowed some public construction projects to continue while shutting down most private and residential construction projects. House Republicans sent him a letter on April 2 asking to reclassify residential construction as an essential service.

Today, the governor announced in a news conference a plan to allow construction projects previously underway to be completed. You can learn more about the plan here

This a good step and hopefully the first of many that recognize businesses can operate safely in our state moving forward.

Information and resources

There's a lot of information out there for you to consume. My Communications team has put considerable effort into a coronavirus website that has useful information and resources: 

Here are some other links you might find useful:

Thank you   

In closing, I want to thank those who are on the front lines of this crisis. Their selfless and tireless dedication to the health and personal needs of others is a reminder that in times of crisis the best of humanity is revealed. While I spend hours a day on phone calls and video conferences, it’s from the confines of my home where I am safe. It is not lost on me that people are risking their lives and well-being to save lives and comfort others.


Rep. J.T. Wilcox
House Republican Leader
(360) 786-7912

It's Your Home. Expect More.


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