COVID-19 Updates for ID OR WA

IDAHO:

Governor Little announced today that the Stay at Home Order will remain in effect until April 30th.  IF all goes well and there are no spikes in COVID-19 cases, they will move to stage 2 starting May 16-29th. At that time non-essential businesses can open if they meet certain protocols. The 3rd stage is May 30-June 12th where non-essential travel can resume. Stage 4 will be June 13-26th where large venues can re-open, again if they meet certain criteria.

Following is information passed along by our Lobbyist:

“Gov. Little addressed the state of Idaho today to provide an update on Covid-19, introduced his phased plan to re-open Idaho, and his new advisory committee, the Economic Rebound Advisory Committee, which is chaired by the CEO of Idaho Power, Darrel Anderson.

The Governor’s Rebound Idaho plan includes re-opening the state in four stages. The Governor’s stay at home order is set to expire on April 30th and the first stage of the plan will begin on May 1, as long as we continue to see a downward trend of Covid-19 cases. Each phase will be assessed on a two week timeline with the final phase being implemented on June 13th.

Similar to the President’s Open America Up Again proposal, Idaho’s plan includes criteria that must be met prior to moving to the next stage. If a spike in cases occurs, then the re-opening will be delayed until there is a decline in cases. More information on the staged plan can be found at rebound.idaho.gov. The website includes resources and business protocols for re-opening. Even though the stay at home order expires on April 30th, the Governor is still encouraging Idahoans to do their part in flattening the curve and staying at home as much as possible.

The Economic Rebound Advisory Committee will provide the Governor with recommendations on how to rebound, provide stability to businesses and ways to promote the state of Idaho. The Advisory committee is made up of small and large business owners who will advise the Governor on how to best safely and responsibly open the economy.

The Governor indicated more information will soon be announced on testing and tracing plans.  If the state starts to see Covid-19 cases start to rise, dates for re-opening phases will get pushed out. “

For more info, you can visit this site:  https://rebound.idaho.gov/

IDAHO PRIPMARY ELECTIONS:

Idaho has extended the Primary Elections to June 2nd.  All voting will be by absentee ballots, so if you have not done so, you will need to apply for your ballot through this website:


WASHINGTON: 

On Tuesday Governor Inslee held a press conference outlining his thoughts, but essentially nothing will change or be modified from the “Stay at Home, Stay Healthy” order in place until May 4th.  They are monitoring the health modeling projection and will likely release a stage process of re-opening the state. 

Our lobbyist reported the following regarding the WSDOT: 

“The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently provided an update on the state of transportation related revenues during the COVID-19 crisis. 

WSDOT has been working diligently to understand the financial repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic to our state revenue sources, such as fuel tax, tolls, and fares on Washington State Ferries services. Given the uncertainty of the duration of the pandemic and the lag in revenue reporting, there are no exact figures right now. But current traffic and ridership numbers suggest that the state could expect a loss of revenue of as much as $100 million per month. This includes impacts to WSDOT and our partner agencies that rely on the same revenue streams. In the coming days, WSDOT will be working closely with the Governor’s office, our congressional delegation, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and other state and federal partners in an effort to inform Congress of our needs as it considers future federal stimulus packages.

Along with the Governor’s office, the Office of Financial Management, and the Legislature, WSDOT has been monitoring the situation closely since early March. The estimated monthly revenue loss is based on recent traffic patterns and the impacts the state has seen in prior low traffic events like severe winter weather closures and the economic slowdown experienced during the Great Recession. Washington is not alone in this situation; its partners and governments at all levels will be significantly affected. WSDOT will know more about the actual losses and the extent of federal funding relief in the weeks ahead.

In an effort to address these anticipated revenue issues, WSDOT is taking some immediate actions to preserve existing funds, including the following initiatives.

  • Deferring both permanent and non-permanent new hires
  • Discontinuing out-of-state travel
  • Suspending new consultant contracts and task orders
  • Holding off all Transportation Equipment Fund and other major purchases

Beyond that, WSDOT is developing a process to evaluate all programs and projects for potential savings. These potential savings mechanisms will be shared with the Governor and the Legislature as they consider how best to move the state forward.”

For more info, you can visit the following sites:
WA COVID-19 Recovery Plan
Governor Inslee’s Policy Brief

WASHINGTON PRIMARY INFO:

Primaries in Washington are scheduled for August 4th.  I would assume that if the re-opening goes well, voting will be done at the regular polling facilities, but here is information on deadlines, absentee voting and voter registration. 
Idaho Voter Information


OREGON:

The Joint Emergency Board was in session earlier this week and approved some measures to provide relief . Our Lobbyist sent the following summary: 

1. Housing and Community Services Department – Safe Shelter and Rental Assistance $12M

The total funds will be split into two parts: $3.5M in safe shelter alternatives for homeless/farmworker vouchers. This is for employees living in farmworker housing who have underlying health conditions that make them particularly susceptible to severe consequences from exposure to COVID-19 or are ill and need to be isolated. 

  1. This will be a voluntary program for motels to opt-into.  
    • It will be up to local HCSD partners to recruit local motels that want to participate but it is not mandatory. We do not know what the supply of motels will be. 
  2. Lawmakers voiced concern about the potential of motels not being OSHA compliant for farm worker housing and employers being held responsible.
    • Staff didn’t have a clear answer and pushed it back onto the local governments. We will need to follow this carefully.
  3. The amount of each voucher has not been determined at this time. Specific amounts will be included in the agreements created with the localities; however they will be told that the goal is to make the allocated $3.5M go as far as possible. 

 $8.5M to Community Action Agencies via a master grant agreement. 

  1. The distribution will be based on population and need, meaning the Portland-Metro area will receive more money than rural Oregon. 
  2. The Community Action funding will be a needs-based formula that takes into account, rates on income levels, homelessness, etc.

2. Oregon Business Development Department – COVID-19 Emergency Business Assistance = $5M General Fund + $5M Lottery/Other Funds from the Business Innovation and Trade Division that have not been already spent or promised via contract. 

  1. Qualifications: 
    • Must be a small business. Small business is defined as having 25 or fewer employees. 
    • The business cannot have already received assistance via federal relief programs. 

However, this will not prohibit businesses from accepting federal assistance in the future. For example, if additional Paycheck Protection Program funds are approved, businesses could apply for the program AFTER receiving the state funds, but not before.

  1. The number of businesses that this funding will serve is unknown, but they believe the money will run out very quickly. 
  2. How long will it take to get this program running and accessible for businesses? 
    • Business Oregon will enter into an agreement with community-based lenders and then funds can be distributed. The process will not be immediate. 

3. Department of Administrative Services – Oregon Worker Relief Fund = $10M. ($1M of this can go towards admin to get the program up and running). 

This funding is for grants to the Oregon Community Foundation to oversee the establishment of a rapid community-based grant program to distribute wage replacement payments to eligible immigrant Oregonians. 

  1. Eligibility: 
    • Applicants must live in Oregon
    • Applicants lost their job in Oregon due to the pandemic
    • Applicants are not eligible for federal Unemployment Insurance or other temporary wage replacement programs. 
  2. Amount: A maximum of $590 a week is the proposed cap on payments. A cap on the length of these payments is not set, however money will likely run out in a short amount of time 
  3. Access: The community-based organizations will create an online application.

They are continuing to monitor this and will provide updates.” 

OREGON PRIMARY INFO:

There are some very contested elections occurring in Oregon.  Please make sure you look at your upcoming elections and get informed as to who is running and how they will support our interests in some of these important topics that will be back in front of them.  The last day to register to vote is April 28th, 2020 – NEXT WEEK!

Election day is May 19th, so if you need an absentee voter packet, you will need to apply for that now.  Here is the website for more information on how to register and obtain your absentee packets.
Oregon Voter Information

If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me! 

Margaret Jensen
Executive Director
Far West Agribusiness Association
P: 509-465-5055
M: 208-724-8399