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21 01, 2018

#MeToo comes to Olympia as Senate hears sexual harassment bills

January 21st, 2018|Uncategorized|

The Senate Labor & Commerce Committee will hear three pieces of legislation sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Senate Hearing Room 4.

Where you can watch it live: /www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2018011337

Brief Summary:
·  Senate Bill 5996 prohibits an employer from requiring an employee, as a condition of employment, to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prevents the employee from disclosing sexual harassment or sexual assault.
· Senate Bill 6313 addresses mandatory employment contracts and agreements that limit an employee’s right to file a complaint or cause of action for sexual harassment or sexual assault.
· Senate Bill 6471 relates to developing model policies to create workplaces that are safe from sexual harassment.

· Sen. Karen Keiser:
· “For a long time, women felt sexual harassment was something we had to deal with just to have careers. I want to make clear that sexual harassment will no longer be accepted, time is up, and we must make a change.

“There’s a burden of humiliation and fear of reprisal that intimidates victims from coming forward. These bills will provide a path forward for victims to report without fear of losing their jobs or suffering other forms of retaliation. We must no longer limit the economic and career potential of half of our population. We must demand that our workplace culture shifts to reflect our values of fairness and respect.”

16 01, 2018

Nelson: Spellman protected environment, ‘cared deeply for our state’

January 16th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson released the following statement after the death of former Gov. John Spellman.

“Gov. Spellman cared deeply for our state and devoted a large part of his life to serving the people, first in King County and then in the governor’s office.

“He led our state during a difficult financial time in the early 1980s and left his mark by working to strengthen local governments. He also recognized early on that the state had an important role to play in protecting the environment and the open spaces in our unique corner of the world.

“The Senate Democratic Caucus extends its deepest condolences to the entire Spellman family.”

14 01, 2018

Week 2: Preventing gun violence, reducing carbon pollution, protecting women’s access to health care and more

January 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Last week Senate Democrats moved quickly on key policy priorities such as voting rights and equal pay — issues that had been bottled up by Republican committee chairs over the last five years. The pace won’t slow this week with hearings on legislation that will finally put the people of Washington state first: preventing gun violence, combating the opioid epidemic, reducing carbon pollution, ensuring a women’s right to quality reproductive care and more.

  • Democratic leaders from the Senate and House will hold a joint media availability at 11 a.m. on Tuesday in the Senate Majority Caucus Room.
  • Possible floor action on Wednesday and Thursday.

Subscribe to Weekly Hot Topics.  Download a printable PDF of the Weekly Highlights.

MONDAY, Jan. 15
Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Resolution in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. at noon on the Senate floor.

Law & Justice 10:00 am, Senate HR 4

  • SB 5992 – Concerning trigger modification devices.
  • SB 6049 – Concerning high capacity magazines.
  • SB 5444 – Concerning enhanced background checks and licensure for assault weapons and large capacity magazines.
  • SB 5463 – Protecting public safety through responsible storage of firearms.
  • SB 6146 – Relating to local government authority to regulate firearms.

Health & Long Term Care 10:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • SB 6150 – Concerning opioid use disorder treatment, prevention, and related services.
  • SB 6050 – Concerning restrictions on prescriptions for opiates.

Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks 1:30 pm, Senate HR 4

  • SB 6316 – Concerning the certification and evidence of adequate and available water

Labor & Commerce 1:30 pm, Senate HR 3

  • SB 6227 – Concerning workplace injuries by janitors.
  • SB 6214 – Allowing industrial insurance coverage for posttraumatic stress disorders of law enforcement and firefighters.

Human Services & Corrections 1:30 pm, Senate HR 2

  • SB 6222 – Concerning expansion of extended foster care eligibility.

Early Learning & K-12 Education 1:30 pm, Senate HR 1

  • SB 6144 – Reducing state assessment requirements to only those required for federal purposes in order to facilitate removal of inequitable barriers to students.
  • Executive Session: SB 6003 – Concerning breakfast after the bell programs in certain public schools. SB 5766 – Preventing harassment, intimidation, and bullying in public schools.

Transportation 3:30 pm, Senate HR 1

  • SB 6054 – Requiring the department of transportation to complete a study on passenger-only ferry services.

TUESDAY, Jan. 16

Higher Education & Workforce Development 8:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • SB 6087 – Expanding opportunities for apprenticeships for inmates.

Financial Institutions & Insurance 8:30 am, Senate HR 3

  • SB 6375 – Developing a publicly owned depository business plan

Energy, Environment & Technology 10:00 am, Senate HR 4

  • SB 6203 – Reducing carbon pollution by moving to a clean energy economy.

Law & Justice 10:00 am, Senate HR 1

  • Executive Session: SB 5992 – Concerning trigger modification devices

Health & Long Term Care 10:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • SB 6219 – Concerning health plan coverage of reproductive health care.
  • SB 5701 – Creating the Washington apple care trust

Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks 1:30 pm, Senate HR 3

  • SB 6099 – Concerning orca captivity

Early Learning & K-12 Education 1:30 pm, Senate HR 1

  • SB 6141 – Strengthening school district plans for recognition, screening, and response to emotional or behavioral distress in students

Ways & Means 3:30 pm, Senate HR 4

  • Executive Session: SB 6090 – Concerning the capital budget. SB 6089 – Concerning state general obligation bonds and related accounts.

Transportation 3:30 pm, Senate HR 1

  • Work Session: Electric vehicles; Road Usage Charge pilot.


State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections 8:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • SB 5780 – Making provisions to commemorate the centennial of national women’s suffrage.
  • SB 6200 – Allowing persons who will turn eighteen years of age by the general election to vote in the primary election

Energy, Environment & Technology 8:00 am, Senate HR 1

  • SB 6130 – Concerning community solar gardens

Labor & Commerce 1:30 pm, Senate HR 4

  • SB 5249 – Providing damages for wage theft.
  • SB 5527 – Simplifying and enforcing employee status under employment laws to ensure fairness to employers and employees and address the underground economy

Transportation 3:30 pm, Senate HR 1

  • Work Session: Cascadia subduction zone impacts on state highway system. 


Energy, Environment & Technology 10:00 am, Senate HR 1

  • SB 5935 – Enhancing consumer access, affordability, and quality of broadband and advanced telecommunications services.

Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks 1:30 pm, Senate HR 3

  • SB 6235 – Concerning the establishment of forest practices pre-application review

Health & Long Term Care 10:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • Work Session: Global perspective on Universal Health Care; State perspective on Universal Health Care.
  • SB 5747 – Addressing health care financing and development of a publicly sponsored integrated delivery system by creating the access for all trust.

Higher Education & Workforce Development 8:00 am, Senate HR 2

  • SB 6263 – Expanding the passport to college promise program to include youth experiencing homelessness and foster youth. SB 6259 – Creating the social work professional loan repayment program.

Ways & Means 3:30 pm, Senate HR 4

  • SB 5513 – Increasing tax exemption transparency and accountability.
  • Executive Session: SB 6062 – Addressing the establishment of an individual health insurance market claims-based reinsurance program.
12 01, 2018

Gun safety bills to be heard Monday in Senate’s Law & Justice Committee

January 12th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA — The Senate Law & Justice Committee will hear several gun-related bills on Monday. Gun violence is a public health crisis in our state and nationwide, and it’s time to impose reasonable restrictions on firearms to ensure the safety of Washingtonians.

Senate Bill 5463, Protecting public safety through responsible storage of firearms:

  • Creates liability for people who don’t safely store firearms, when those firearms are used to kill or injure someone.
  • More than 65 percent of school shooters obtained their fire at home, or at the home of a relative.
  • More than 75 percent of youth who attempt to take their own lives do so with a gun found at home.

Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby: “This bill simply says that if you are an irresponsible gun owner who allows an unsecured weapon to be used by somebody prohibited from owning a gun, such as a terrorist, domestic abuser or a child, that there will be legal repercussions. The grim reality is that easy access to firearms is a leading factor in shootings, and deaths, among children.”

Senate Bill 5992, Concerning trigger modification devices:

  • Would ban the conversion kit known as a “bump stock” that essentially allows people to turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns.
  • This type of modification is easily purchased, and allowed a shooter in Las Vegas to kill 58 people and wound 546 more in 2017.

Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim: ““The clear purpose of bump stocks is to give a legal semiautomatic weapon the rapid-fire capability of machine gun, which is an illegal weapon. As a lifetime NRA member and longtime supporter of gun rights and responsible gun ownership, I don’t take this action lightly. But these devices pose an emerging and deadly threat to public safety that urgently needs to be addressed. Bump stocks should never have been legalized in the first place.”

Senate Bill 6049, Concerning high-capacity magazines:

  • Would prohibit the manufacture, possession, sale or transfer of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
  • Possession of a high-capacity magazine would be a gross misdemeanor.
  • Exemptions would include law enforcement officers and members of the military when on duty.
  • Introduced at the recommendation of Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: “When a shooter enters a building with a 30-round magazine, that’s 30 people that he could kill quickly, without stopping to reload. By allowing high capacity magazines in our state, we give active shooters the ability to inflict a huge amount of damage.”

  • Senate Bill 5444, Concerning enhanced background checks and licensure for assault weapons and high capacity magazines
  • Would require enhanced background checks for the purchase of an assault weapon.
  • Today in Washington, it is easier to buy an assault weapon than a handgun. This bill would remedy that problem.
  • Introduced at the recommendation of Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: “Today, state law treats assault weapons the same as hunting rifles. That makes them easier and faster to purchase than handguns. Given the deadly killing efficiency of these guns, that is unacceptable. We need better regulations to make sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands.”

Senate Bill 6146, Relating to local government authority to regulate firearms:

  • Would allow local authorities to adopt responsible approaches to gun safety to protect their communities.
  • For more than 30 years, our local towns, cities and counties have been blocked from taking action on their own to prevent gun violence because of the statewide preemption law.

When: 10 a.m. on Jan. 15
Where: Senate Hearing Room 4, Cherberg Building

10 01, 2018

Senate Democrats to hear higher education bills to expand access and opportunity to all Washingtonians

January 10th, 2018|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democrats have introduced a package of higher education bills to ensure access and opportunity for all Washingtonians. The Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee will begin work to ensure DREAMers have opportunity regardless of federal action, find solutions for students mired in massive student loan debt and make college free for low-income students facing the high cost of higher education.

The committee will hear bills at 8 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 11, in the Cherberg Building Senate Hearing Room 2.

SB 5074, Eligibility for financial aid programs for DREAMers
• Extends the standard established in 2003, when the state first allowed eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at state universities and colleges to include those who were granted DACA status to ensure DREAMers are eligible for state financial aid programs.
Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: “Every Washingtonian deserves access to higher education, and the opportunities that will follow. Policies at the national level have placed DREAMers in jeopardy. We as a state need to make it clear that DREAMers deserve respect, and that they deserve access to the financial aid packages that Washington offers.”

SB 6029, Establishing a student loan bill of rights.
• Creates new protections for borrowers, requires loan servicers to obtain a license from the state and establishes a Student Education Loan Advocate to assist and aid borrowers.
Sen. Marko Liias, D-Lynnwood: “I’m one of the 800,000 Washingtonians still paying off my student loans, so I really understand the economic pressures people face when trying to plan for their future. The student debt crisis is going to continue to grow and we should act now to protect borrowers from predatory loan servicers.”

SB 6101, Evergreen Free College Act:
• Creates the Evergreen Free College Program to offer free college to all Washingtonians making $89,000 or less for a family of four.
Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island and committee chair: “There is a huge need in expanding access and opportunity for children, particularly those who do not have the ease of access and support of many families. While many of our lowest income students are eligible for our Student Need Grant and other programs, many students’ parents make just a bit more than those thresholds but can still not afford college. It is our duty to make absolutely sure that every single child has the chance to fully pursue their educational and training dreams and fully succeed in life.”

14 12, 2017

Rolfes: Governor’s budget makes smart, targeted investments

December 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, incoming chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, released the following statement after the release of the governor’s 2018 operating supplemental budget proposal.

“I appreciate the work the governor has done to craft a prudent supplemental budget proposal that offers a blueprint to complete our work in 60 days.

“This budget takes the final step in our duty to amply fund basic education and makes smart, targeted investments in programs that lift Washingtonians up. I appreciate the governor’s focus on expanding treatment for mental health patients and his commitment to protecting affordable health care for all residents.

“This is a realistic approach that will guide the Legislature as we work to put people first with a balanced budget delivered on time.”

30 11, 2017

Senate officially turns blue as Dhingra is sworn in

November 30th, 2017|Uncategorized|

SEATTLE – Manka Dhingra was sworn in Wednesday as the state senator for the 45th Legislative District. Dhingra’s swearing in gives Democrats a 25-24 majority in the Senate ahead of the 2018 Legislative Session.

“I’m humbled and proud to represent the communities of the 45th Legislative District,” Dhingra said. “I promise to represent each and every one of my constituents with integrity, honesty and a commitment to solving problems with my colleagues—regardless of their party affiliation. We have a lot of work ahead of us. I am confident that by working together we can make progress toward a better future for our district, our state and our country.”

A King County senior deputy prosecuting attorney and longtime advocate for women, children, and veterans, Dhingra is slated to serve as vice chair of the Senate Law & Justice and Human Services & Corrections committees in 2018.

15 11, 2017

Senate Democrats: Pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling, but hard work remains on school funding

November 15th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Democratic leads on K-12 Education on Wednesday reacted to the state Supreme Court’s latest order on the McCleary decision:

“We are very pleased that the Legislature and the Supreme Court are in strong agreement that the state has made significant progress on basic education policy, and that some important work remains,” said incoming chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County. “Many lawmakers, myself included, have had conversations with our school districts since the 2017 session concluded. We know some steps need to be taken to ensure they have the flexibility and funding they need to provide students with the best education possible and in the fairest way for taxpayers. This order reiterates the need for these conversations to continue and intensify.”

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has largely affirmed the work we have done to help students in Washington succeed,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Deputy Leader Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane. “We knew the plan needed to be further refined and will incorporate the court’s guidance in to our work to improve the state’s plan to fund basic education. I remain committed to working with my colleagues to uphold our constitutional obligation to fully fund our schools and help every child achieve their fullest potential.”

14 11, 2017

Rolfes to chair Senate budget committee

November 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, was chosen to chair the crucial Senate budget committee, Ways & Means, on Monday. This appointment follows the 2017 election results, which shifted control of the state Senate from Republicans to Democrats.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to serve as chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee,” Rolfes said. “The decisions we make in Olympia have very real impacts on the people of this state, particularly with regards to how their tax dollars are spent. As chair of Ways & Means, I will work every day to ensure the best interests of Washingtonians are at the heart of everything we do.”

In her new role, Rolfes will be the Senate’s chief budget writer and negotiator, set the committee’s agenda and lead her colleagues in determining what bills will move through the committee to be considered for a vote of the Senate.

Rolfes has served in leadership roles within the Senate Democratic caucus in recent years. She was a chief negotiator on education policy and funding during the critical 2017 legislative session and has served as one of two lead Democrats on the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Rolfes will also serve as vice chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.

“Following some sweeping tax policy changes in the last legislative session, my aim is to make sure schools have the flexibility and funding they need, taxes are fair, businesses have the space to grow and workers across this state can thrive,” Rolfes added. “It is also critical we get our work done on time and in a transparent way.”

5 09, 2017

Nelson: Decision to end DACA is un-American

September 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|

OLYMPIA – Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson released the statement below following the Trump administration’s announcement Tuesday it will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program:

“DACA kids are American kids. They are contributing members of society who had no control over the circumstances that brought them to this country – their country.

“Ending this program flies in the face of what this country stands for. Simply put, President Trump’s decision is un-American.

“We stand with the thousands of DACA kids in our state, and those who are fighting this cruel and short-sighted decision.

“We also call on Republicans in our state and those in Congress to do their jobs, stand up for what’s right and stand up for all children.”