Retailers have averted further financial hardships this year with Governor Jay Inslee’s signature on Senate bill 5061 that slashes high spikes in unemployment insurance rates that had been planned for this year.
The bill, signed last Monday, increases minimum unemployment benefits and provides significant tax relief for businesses over the next five years. It was the first legislation Inslee signed during the 2021 Legislative Session.
SB 5061 relieves employers of individual benefit charges for claims that occurred during the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order from March 22 and May 30 of last year. It wipes out $1.7 billion in new unemployment taxes over the next five years including more than $920 million in rate increases this year. It passed the Senate and House with strong bipartisan majorities. The rate hikes were contemplated due to record high unemployment claims that resulted from the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the state and nation.
“The signing of this tax relief bill is an important next step to help reduce the financial impact on Washington retailers as a result of the pandemic,” said WR President & CEO Renée Sunde. “We have a long way to go to rebuild our economy and we look forward to working together to further restore retail jobs.”
The Legislature also is considering further business relief bills. One would increase contact tracing and vaccine distribution and help renters, schools and small businesses. Another would waive liquor license fees for taverns and restaurants for one year.
Washington Retail will continue to monitor bills providing relief for retailers and report on developments during the session, scheduled for adjournment on April 25. See an announcement from the Governor’s office here.