With unemployment rates soaring, the state Legislature has just extended a moratorium on utility shut-offs for non-payment, through the end of this month. A coalition of environmental, labor and social justice groups say it’s not enough.
More than 60 progressive groups in Washington have submitted a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. They include the Sierra Club, One America, Teamsters 117 and Earth Ministries.
The letter lays out how the new coronavirus is delivering a one-two punch to people of color and low-income communities, who face disproportionately high rates of illness and death, as well as greater vulnerability to the economic impacts of the crisis. Many face the prospect of having to pay multiple months’ worth of utility bills once the moratorium expires.
The groups want an extension beyond the end of the month and say additional policy fixes are needed to address structural inequities. And they say if the Legislature won’t act to provide a longer period of stability for low-income utility ratepayers, Inslee has authority to do it, through an executive order.