Monthly Archives: January 2015

Equal Pay Opportunity Act assigned to committee

January 26th, 2015|

OLYMPIA – The Equal Pay Opportunity Act, Senate Bill 5630, today was introduced in the Washington State Senate and referred to the committee on Commerce and Labor. Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, issued the following statement:

“I am proud that we are moving forward with this bill for the women of Washington State. This is an issue that women have raised for many decades. I am pleased to join this effort on behalf of future generations of workers.

“We all ought to share the value of creating healthy, economically viable communities where individuals and families can succeed and thrive. Women in our state should have the ability to know that they are not being paid less than their male counterparts, and the ability to ask questions at work without retaliation.

“In the coming days I hope the bill will be heard by the Republican majority. This issue shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but one that supports the ideal that equal work should amount to equal pay.”

Cleveland, Senn sponsor Equal Pay Opportunity Act

January 22nd, 2015|

OLYMPIASen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, and Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, today announced their sponsorship of legislation to help close the gap in pay among female workers. The Equal Pay Opportunity Act (EPOA) addresses income disparities, employer discrimination and retaliation practices, and reaffirms Washington’s longstanding pursuit of equality in the workplace.

“Even today, women are paid 80 cents for every dollar earned by men for similar work,” said Rep. Senn. “It’s time to revisit this issue so we move quickly toward gender pay equity in the workplace.”

Data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Pew Charitable Trust shows that 40 percent of households in America rely on a woman as the leading or sole breadwinner. Income disparities limit a woman’s ability to sufficiently provide for her family. This disparity in pay leads to higher rates of poverty among women and children.

“The idea for this bill was not created overnight,” said Cleveland, the bill’s Senate sponsor. “My grandmother’s generation fought for the right to vote, my mother’s generation began the fight for equality and we are still having the same discussions over income equality for women today. As a mother, I hope that for my daughter and for the generations of women to come that this issue will be addressed. Let’s start today.”

The legislation proposed by Cleveland and Senn will require employers to provide a valid reason such as, education, training, or experience to validate disparities in pay.

The bill will also provide protections for employees by stating that an employer may not:

  • Retaliate against employees who share information or inquires about compensation or job opportunities;
  • Require employees to sign any document that prevents them from disclosing the amount of their wages; or
  • Require nondisclosure by employees of their wages as a condition of employment.

Many organizations discourage employees from discussing their compensation. This act permits workers to discuss their pay. These conversations will allow all employees to better understand their positions and determine if they are indeed being paid unfairly.

“This bill is aptly named the Equal Pay Opportunity Act. The availability of information about salary and job opportunities provides more of an opportunity for fair pay,” explained Senn.

The existing Washington State Equal Pay Act has not been updated since 1943. Much has changed in society and in the workplace over the last 72 years.

“Our society still consistently undervalues women’s work and contributions, even all these decades after our state banned wage discrimination,” said Marilyn Watkins, policy director of the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle. “Unequal pay leaves big holes in family budgets, makes it harder for local businesses to prosper, and means women get less in retirement, too. The EPOA will help women get ahead, and also help to change our culture so that women get the pay and opportunities they’ve earned.”

Currently, Washington state is ranked 21st in the nation for having one of the highest wage gaps. The issue of pay equity has gained more attention as women in the United States demand equal pay for equal work.

“We have the ability to put our ideas into action,” said Cleveland. “I am a proud sponsor of this bill that helps correct the injustice of income inequality.”

“Pay equity is a family economic security issue,” said Senn. “When women aren’t paid fairly, families suffer.”

The Equal Pay Opportunity Act will be introduced in the House and the Senate as companion bills within the coming days. The bills will need hearings and to pass each chamber of the Legislature before heading to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.


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    Cleveland’s transportation safeguard bills introduced in Senate

Cleveland’s transportation safeguard bills introduced in Senate

January 14th, 2015|

OLYMPIA – Today, the trio of transportation mega project safeguards, proposed by Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, were introduced in the Washington State Senate.

“The bills aim to create transparency, consistency and safeguards to boarder communities and future bi-state transportation mega projects,” said Cleveland. “We need accountability and ways to make sure that we protect the investments that communities in both states make when planning a project of significance.”

Senate Bill 5116 would direct the state Office of Financial Management to take action when the Legislature fails to fully fund a bi-state mega project.

Senate Bill 5117 would create accountability measures to require reimbursement of a neighboring state’s expenditures if the mega project is not fully funded by the Legislature after receipt of the federal record of decision.

Senate Bill 5118 would create a bi-state workgroup to establish consistency and transparency among states, communities, and key stakeholders.

“These bills will help re-establish trust with our border communities and states,” said Cleveland. “This is a way to step back and show our partners that we are serious about finding a solution to replacing the antiquated I-5 bridge. These are common-sense measures to ensure we are held accountable for the commitments we make to our community and neighboring states. We are not ignoring our situation and putting it off for future generations – we are addressing it today.”

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    Cleveland proposes safeguards for future bi-state transportation mega projects

Cleveland proposes safeguards for future bi-state transportation mega projects

January 9th, 2015|

VANCOUVER – In advance of the 2015 Washington State Legislative Session, Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, has proposed legislation to safeguard future bi-state transportation mega projects.

“Each day that we delay addressing the antiquated I-5 bridge situation in our community is another day that our community fails to move forward,” said Cleveland. “The safeguards proposed today would ensure that when a final record of decision is reached at the federal level, there is accountability at the state level to honor the time, money, and commitments that two states have made in the compromise of creating a bi-state transportation megaproject.”

Cleveland’s legislation would create a bi-state work group for transportation megaprojects valued at or more than $500 million. The work group would be able to facilitate between legislative bodies and key stakeholders in both states in order to create transparent lines of communication about the progress in both states.

“I see this as a fundamental step in establishing and maintaining good working relationships with another state partner when dealing with transportation projects of this magnitude,” said Cleveland. “We need to build trust that each state is completely invested in moving the project forward all the way through to the ribbon cutting.”

Another safeguard proposed by Cleveland would direct the state Office of Financial Management to redirect funds to a bi-state transportation mega project if the legislature fails to commit funds after a federal record of decision has been received. OFM would be directed to divert funds away from transportation projects that has been allocated but has not begun construction in order to fund the bi-state mega project.

A third safeguard proposal would commit transportation departments in each state to a contract containing a provision that if one of the state legislatures fails to identify a funding source to fully complete the project within eight years of the receipt of the federal record of decision, that legislature would be held accountable for reimbursing the neighboring state’s expenditures on the project to date, any federal funds used, and any other liquidated damages as negotiated and agreed to by both states.

“These proposals would help protect border communities and the bi-state mega projects that are needed in order to move the community and region forward,” said Cleveland. “In our case, we lost our federal funds to the State of Hawaii and are now at the bottom of the federal funding list. If at some point we get another opportunity, we need to be prepared.”

The federal decision to replace the antiquated I-5 bridges was issued on Dec. 7, 2011. The Columbia River Crossing was officially declared defunct last summer after several attempts to revive the project. All formal discussion on replacing the I-5 bridge has ended.

“It’s imperative that we resume meaningful dialogue about an I-5 bridge replacement. These safeguards can help ensure that, when we are ready to build a bridge, we will not be stopped at the last minute after making considerable investments. These are common-sense measures to ensure we are held accountable for the commitments we make to our community and neighboring states.”