Monthly Archives: February 2016

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    Seahawks Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse visits Senate with Gold Star Kids

Seahawks Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse visits Senate with Gold Star Kids

February 16th, 2016|

On Monday, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse visited the Legislature with about 20 Gold Star Families and kids, who are survivors of fallen American service men and women, as part of the 15:1 Jermaine Kearse Foundation. Kearse, the families, and the foundation were honored in the House of Representatives with House Resolution 4661. Kearse and the Gold Star kids also visited the Senate and spent some time with members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, including Sen. Karen Fraser.

To read the full House Resolution, click here.

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    Fraser bill protects public employee pensions from predatory lending practices

Fraser bill protects public employee pensions from predatory lending practices

February 15th, 2016|

Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, is the sponsor of legislation to help protect retirees’ state pensions from predatory lending practices that put their pensions at risk.

Senate Bill 6622 would prohibit lenders from offering lump sum loans to retirees in exchange for the retirees, in effect, signing over all or much of their hard-earned pension benefits to the lenders to pay off the loans.

“In a typical case, the retiree would open a joint checking account with the lender, arranging to have their full monthly pension benefits deposited into this account, and then giving the business the exclusive right to withdraw from the account to pay off the loan,” said Fraser. “Sometimes, the retiree is also required to buy life insurance for this transaction, which is an additional expense. Typically, the interest rate is at exorbitant levels, and often not disclosed in advance to the retiree, because the companies that do this are not registered as ’lending’ companies. Further, there might be no protection against the business increasing the interest rate or fees over time, further depleting or eliminating the retiree’s pension asset.”

The Congressional Governmental Accounting Office has studied and reported on the risks of these practices for veterans’ pensions, which have been a significant target of these companies.

“No outside company should have access to a retiree’s pension benefits. If this loophole is legal, it should be repealed,” said Fraser. “Retirees worked hard for these benefits and depend on them for the rest of their lives. This bill will help protect public employees from losing their valuable pensions to unregulated and unlicensed lenders and schemes.”

The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has been successful in shutting down two companies engaging in this practice in the […]

Fraser proposes Human Trafficking Awareness Day

February 3rd, 2016|

Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, has been at the forefront of efforts to bring awareness to and protect our citizens from the horrors of human trafficking. Her latest bipartisan bill, Senate Bill 6376, will recognize Jan. 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Fraser is proposing this bill in cooperation with King County Council Member Jeannie Kohl-Welles, who as a state senator was a major and longtime leader on this topic.

“Geographically, our state has two international borders and many sea ports,” said Fraser. “These can create opportunities for an increase in the number of people who might become victims of human trafficking. Our state has taken many actions to try to prevent cases of human trafficking and punishes those who exploit others. As a result of successful efforts in the Legislature, the State of Washington has become a national leader in this area.”

Human trafficking uses force, fraud or coercion to force children, youth and adults into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. While exact numbers of victims of human trafficking are difficult to calculate, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the country each year. This form of modern slavery is one of the largest and fastest growing criminal industries in the world.

In 2002, Washington State was the first state in the U.S. to create a statewide anti-trafficking task force, adopt safety measures for mail-order brides, and create a definition of human trafficking crimes at the state level. Between 2002 and 2015, the Washington State Legislature enacted more than 40 anti-trafficking laws, and is recognized as being among the top states in the U.S. for its advocacy against human trafficking.

“Recognizing Jan. 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day will […]

Fraser and Senate honor the “2016 Paddle to Nisqually”

February 1st, 2016|

On Monday, February 1, 2016, the Senate honored the “2016 Paddle to Nisqually” with Senate Resolution 8695.

On July 30, the Nisqually Tribe will welcome more than 100 tribal canoes representing more than 60 tribes from across Washington state, Alaska, British Columbia, and other countries around the world as they finish long distance journeys as part of this year’s Tribal Canoe Journey.

To read the full resolution, click here.