2 02, 2018

Keiser’s bills to address sexual harassment pass out Senate committee

February 2nd, 2018|Radio|

Senate Labor & Commerce Committee Chair Karen Keiser discusses sexual harassment policy advancing out of committee. (TRT: 52) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD.

The Senate Labor & Commerce Committee passed three legislative measures to address sexual harassment in the workplace. Senate Bills 5996 and 6313, introduced by Committee Chair Karen Keiser of Des Moines, would prohibit employers from limiting an employee’s right to file a complaint—and prohibit them from requiring employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement as a condition of employment. A third measure, Senate Bill 6471, directs the Human Rights Commission to develop model workplace policies.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines: (TRT: 26): CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “So we’ve created a bill that will allow to generate and create model policies, and that’s not just training.  That’s not just telling people what not to do. That doesn’t work, we found out. We need to change culture in the workplace and that means having a safe and secure way to report sexual harassment without retaliation and repercussions. This is not easy, but we need to do it.”  

The legislation awaits consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.

I’m Sharlett Mena, in Olympia.

14 11, 2017

Senate committee discusses data breach and consumer protection

November 14th, 2017|Radio|

As incoming chair of the Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee, Mullet discusses data breaches and consumer protection (TRT: 49) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

On Tuesday, the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee held a work session on the consumer credit reporting data breach and security freeze fees. Senator Mark Mullet of Issaquah is the incoming chair of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.

Senator Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah: (TRT: ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “The recent issue around Equifax and the credit breach has come up because – even though Equifax wasn’t charging to freeze your credit through them, the other two agencies were charging 10 dollars, and I think people felt through no fault of their own, it seemed ridiculous they were having to pay money to freeze their credit when they did nothing wrong. So, I think one of the first issues we’re going to look at is getting rid of that 10 dollar fee. It seems like it’s not helping Washington consumers in any way, shape or form.”

Mullet also believes legislators have a role to try to educate Washington consumers as much as possible about phishing emails and scams.

In Olympia, I’m Nicole Vukonich.

13 11, 2017

Senate Democrats affirm leadership for 2018 Legislative Session

November 13th, 2017|Radio|

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, will lead the Senate Democrats into the majority and identified some important issues they plan to address in January 2018. (TRT: 82) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


On Monday, the Washington State Senate Democrats elected the leadership and chairs of committees ahead of the 2018 Legislative Session. Senator Sharon Nelson of Maury Island will continue to lead democrats in the majority as soon as elections are certified in early December. Nelson identified some of the most important issue areas the caucus will take up in January.

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island: (TRT: 46) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “First and foremost we need to pass the Capital Budget. It’s a $4.3 billion dollar investment in rural, suburban and urban communities across this state – it’s 19,000 jobs. Secondly, we really need to protect women in this time of the Trump Administration and look at what we can do to protect women’s reproductive health. We will be taking action on that. Additionally, taking a look at our LGBTQ community – there are things we can do to assist them.  We will be looking at elections and making them fairer. The Voting Rights Act is really important in the State of Washington. And, we will be looking at the dark money bill. People in this state have a right, a complete right, to know who is funding elections and when large corporations are coming in and trying to steal elections. We will pass that legislation.”

Over the last five years, Senate Republicans and one Democrat have controlled the state’s upper chamber. With the success of a Democrat in the 45th Legislative District special election, Democrats will soon take control of the Senate.

In Olympia, I’m Nicole Vukonich.

6 07, 2017

Improving outcomes for children with new state Department of Children, Youth and Families

July 6th, 2017|Radio|

A new state agency with a focus on improving outcomes for at-risk children, youth and families was created Thursday. (TRT: 1:22) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


Sen. Jeannie Darneille of Tacoma served on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on the Delivery of Services to Children and Families and recommended updates to services for at-risk children and youth. On Thursday, with the signing of a bill, the new state Department of Children Youth and Families became a reality.

Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma: (TRT: 16) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “This new department has so much potential for reinvigorating the real concept of who is our client here. We’re the State of Washington. Our client is the child. And, while we are providing services for that child, we’re going to be able to strengthen their family as well.”

The new agency will combine the services offered through the state Department of Social and Health Services Children’s Administration and the Department of Early Learning. By July of 2019, the new department will also include programs offered by the Juvenile Rehabilitation Office and the Office of Juvenile Justice.

Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma: (TRT: 24) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “One of the real pivotal parts of the mission of this new department is that we will completely change our state from being a state government that responds to crisis in families, to a state that gets in front of those crises, and actually trains and helps parents learn to be self-sustaining with new skill sets, so they don’t find themselves in position where children are hurt.”

The new department will have a yearlong transition period as the logistics of combining these services are worked out.

In Olympia, Nicole Vukonich.

5 07, 2017

Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program signed into law

July 5th, 2017|Radio|

Washington’s workers will have paid family and medical leave beginning in 2020 thanks to legislation signed into law Wednesday. (TRT: :75) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


On Wednesday afternoon, the historic bill creating the state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program was signed into law. Sen. Karen Keiser of Des Moines has worked to make this day a reality for more than a decade.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, TRT: (:21) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “All of the working families in Washington state will have economic security. When they have a new baby, or if they have a life event with a terrible accident, or with a spouse with a stroke, or any kind of health crisis that can come to anybody at any time. It is a wonderful day. It makes me cry!”

Beginning in 2020, the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program will provide those who have worked at least 820 hours in the State of Washington up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a child or ailing family member, and up to 12 weeks for personal illnesses.  During their leave, workers may be granted up to 90 percent of their pay or up to $1,000 dollars per week. This new program is funded by employer and employee contributions, with the option of small businesses with less than 50 employees to opt out.

Washington state is the fifth state in the United States to adopt paid family and medical leave insurance programs and serves as a model for other states to follow.

In Olympia, Nicole Vukonich.

19 05, 2017

Property owners across the state face tax hike under Senate Republican plan

May 19th, 2017|Radio|

OLYMPIA – Under the state Senate Republican budget plan, property taxes would increase in school districts all across the state (TRT: 1:21) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD



While there is agreement from both Democrats and Republicans that revenue is needed to amply fund schools for Washington’s 1.1 million students and their teachers, it’s the source of revenue that is concerning for many in the legislature. Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Sharon Nelson of Maury Island is skeptical about the Senate Republican budget proposal.

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island: TRT: (:16) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “They are selling this as an education plan. It is not an education plan; it is a property tax plan. They are saying it will benefit many, many districts. Well, actually there are a lot of districts are going to see their property taxes going up, not down under this plan.”

Under the Senate Republican’s $5.5 billion dollar property tax plan, by 2021, homeowners in all but three of the state’s 295 school districts will see a property tax increase if local voters approve 10 percent school levy rates.

For school districts in King County, this would mean the average increase in property tax would cost homeowners about $445 dollars per year. In Kitsap County, the average increase would be about $242 dollars; and in Kittitas County, the average property tax increase would be about $235 dollars per year.

The 30-day special session in Olympia will end on Tuesday.

In Olympia, Nicole Vukonich.

9 02, 2017

Faith leaders and Sen. Palumbo gather to support religious freedom in Washington state

February 9th, 2017|Radio|

Sen. Guy Palumbo of Maltby and faith leaders speak up for religious freedom and Senate Bill 5308. (TRT: 39) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


Hours before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the President’s travel ban, faith leaders and dozens of supporters came together in support of religious freedom. Sen. Guy Palumbo of Maltby spoke during the press conference:

Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby: (TRT: 11) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “It is our job as elected officials and my job as a state senator to speak out. I am in a position of power, as are the rest of the representatives here and its our job to speak out for our Muslim brothers and sisters, and I’m going to continue to do that.”

Senate Bill 5308 will limit an agency from disclosing personal religious affiliation to the federal government for the purpose of creating a religious database. The bipartisan bill has not yet had a hearing in the Senate.

In Olympia, I’m Nicole Vukonich.

8 02, 2017

Opposition to Right to Work legislation draws potentially historic crowds

February 8th, 2017|Radio|

OLYMPIA – Right to work legislation drew more than 1,100 people to the Senate to have their voices heard in opposition to the bill. (TRT: 72) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


On Wednesday, in a sea of neon green and fluorescent orange, laborers led by the building trades and skilled craftsmen filled the halls and hearings rooms of the Senate. Approximately 1,100 people signed in to oppose Senate Bill 5692, also known as a “Right to Work” bill. Sen. Rebecca Saldaña of Seattle is a member of the Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee where the hearing took place:

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle: (TRT: 30) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “For Washington, we believe that all work is dignified and that people should be able to make a living, and to be able to provide for their families. Right to work is really a misnomer; it’s really about right to work for less or not having the right to actually work safely. In states where right to work has been on the books for many years, we have higher rates of injuries in the workplace and we have significantly lower wages particularly whether there’s a union or not a union.”

Often, when businesses look at where to relocate, the availability of skilled labor is one of the most important factors. With more than 800 people wanting to testify in opposition to the bill, a potentially historic number, their voices and stories will be difficult to ignore.

In Olympia, I’m Nicole Vukonich.

11 01, 2017

Recognizing Human Trafficking Awareness Day – a first for the State of Washington

January 11th, 2017|Radio, Uncategorized|

For the first time, the State of Washington recognized January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day. (TRT: 58) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


Wednesday, Jan. 11th marked the state’s first Human Trafficking Awareness Day as an official day of recognition. Sen. Maralyn Chase of Edmonds has worked on this issue for a number of years and is worried that there are still too many young girls and women who are potential targets.

Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Edmonds: (TRT: 21) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “Probably 94 percent, as near as we can calculate, of the women who are trafficked were picked up between the ages of 12 and 14. This is a crime against children. It is our responsibility to put an end to this, once and for all, and I believe that the State of Washington is one of the leaders in the world on this issue.”

Between 2002 and 2016, the State of Washington passed more than 40 anti-human trafficking laws. Human Trafficking Awareness Day was created in 2016 to raise the profile on the issue, to help educate people about potential warning signs, and to honor all victims of human trafficking.

In Olympia, I’m Nicole Vukonich.

10 01, 2017

Sen. Karen Keiser sponsors paid family and medical leave bill

January 10th, 2017|Radio|

Nearly a quarter of new mothers have to return to work just two weeks after giving birth. Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, is sponsoring a paid family and medical leave proposal that would give security to Washington families who need to take time away from work to care for their families. (TRT: 57 ) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Sen. Karen Keiser of Des Moines has worked in the legislature on the issue of paid family and medical leave over the last 20 years. On Tuesday, surrounded by many colleagues, working men and women, moms, dads and children, she announced her sponsorship of Senate Bill 5032 – legislation that would create paid family and medical leave in the State of Washington. Sen. Keiser:

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent: (TRT: 19) CLICK TO DOWNLOAD: “All Washington’s working families share the same thing, and that is a health crisis can happen at any time. Whether it’s a parent who falls down and breaks their hip, whether it’s a spouse who has a heart attack, whether it’s a daughter who has a new baby prematurely, health crises happen anytime, anywhere, to anybody.”

Keiser is hopeful that with a large group of supporters from many key industries across Washington that the proposal will be successful and allow Washingtonians the security of being with loved ones when they’re needed the most.

In Olympia, I’m Nicole Vukonich