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Inslee defends his authority to make changes to the long-term care premiums

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Inslee defends his authority to make changes to the long-term care premiums

By The HERALD and staff reports

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement last Thursday on his authority to make changes to the long-term care premiums set to begin collections on January 1.

Below is the governor's statement.

"There seems to be some inaccurate reporting and misinformation about the Legislature's long-term care bill, which under the law requires employers to withhold money from employee wages.

"Only the Legislature has the authority to eliminate the requirement that employers pay a premium based on withholding from an employee's wages at this time. The Legislature has committed to changing the law in January 2022, including delaying the premium collection timelines.

"As I stated clearly earlier this week, I do have the ability to order the state Employment Security Department to refrain from collecting from those premiums from employers at this time, and I have done that.

"As an employer, the state of Washington is following the law and will have to begin collecting money from state employee paychecks as of January 1st. We know that many other private employers are doing the same, and others are hoping that the Legislature will change the law. However, if the Legislature fails to do so, employers will still be legally obligated to pay the full amount owed to state ESD to begin the long-term care program.

"The Legislature will have an opportunity to fix their bill starting on January 10 when they convene for the session. It is my hope that they will do that quickly in order to provide clarity to employees and employers. I have considerable confidence that the Legislature will fix this problem."

Long-term Care

Premiums Collection

In case you missed it: Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter last Wednesday to the state Employment Security Department, directing them to not accept long-term services and support premiums from employers in advance of quarterly taxes due in April 2022. The letter follows the announcement the governor made last week and the commitment made by legislative leadership to make refinements to the law this coming legislative session.

The letter reads, in part:

"The Legislature has committed to changing the Long Term Services and Support law in January of 2022, including delaying the premium collection timelines currently outlined in this law. Until that change occurs, the existing law remains in place; I do not have the power to change the law on my own. While the Legislature lacks authority to direct employers not to collect premiums, legislative leadership has strongly encouraged the employer community to pause collection of premiums from employees, to allow lawmakers time to pass legislation extending implementation dates for this law until next year.

Based on the Legislature's stated commitment, employers must now choose whether to begin collecting premiums on January 1, 2022, according to the current law, and returning the premiums to workers following a change in the law, or delay collection in anticipation of this legislative change. As you know, if the Legislature fails to change the law, employers will still be legally obligated to pay the full amount owed to your agency."

Homelessness Proposals for 2022

Gov. Jay Inslee today announced his homelessness proposals for the 2022 legislative session, which will bolster Washington's leadership in finding solutions for individuals living without shelter and help those at risk of becoming homeless.

The governor put forward a $800 million investment in addressing homelessness that will:

Pursue new avenues to help people remain in their homes

Secure more facilities to provide permanent supportive and affordable housing

Expand supportive services for people with behavioral health needs

Transition encamped people to permanent housing solutions

Restore the range of affordable housing types in our cities

"Unsheltered Washingtonians deserve a safe, warm and dry place to live, with additional resources available, if they need them. This is not only the right thing to do for these people, but the right thing to do for our state and our communities," Inslee added.

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