Sen. Karen Fraser Newsroom

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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

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.

February 16th, 2016|Uncategorized|
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    Fraser bill protects public employee pensions from predatory lending practices

Fraser bill protects public employee pensions from predatory lending practices

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 If this loophole is legal, it should be repealed,” said Fraser.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 […]

February 15th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Fraser proposes Human Trafficking Awareness Day

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 […]

February 3rd, 2016|Uncategorized|

Fraser and Senate honor the “2016 Paddle to Nisqually”

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.

February 1st, 2016|Uncategorized|
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    Fraser: “Today is a life changing day for 2,000 high school seniors in our state”

Fraser: “Today is a life changing day for 2,000 high school seniors in our state”

Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, issued the following statement after passage of Senate Bill 6145, a bill that will delay the state’s high school biology assessments as a graduation requirement for the next two years:

“With this bill, today is a life changing day for up to 2,000 high school seniors here in the State of Washington. Seniors who have passed every test and graduation requirement, except the mandatory biology assessment, will receive their high school diplomas.

“Some of these students will be the first in their families to graduate. A high school diploma means that these young adults will be able to move forward in their lives. They will no longer be shut out from going on to college, vocational training, or getting a better paying job. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that every time a student drops out or is denied a diploma because of standardized tests, that student will lose about $370,000 in lifetime earnings.

“A high school diploma opens important doors. I am pleased we were able to begin to address this issue that will help thousands of students in our state.”

July 9th, 2015|Uncategorized|
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    Fraser: Today is a brighter day for nearly 2,000 of Washington’s high school seniors

Fraser: Today is a brighter day for nearly 2,000 of Washington’s high school seniors

Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Karen Fraser, D- Thurston County,  issued the following statement after introduction of an agreement on a compromise bill to allow 2,000 high school seniors to graduate. Senate Bill 6145 will delay the high school graduation requirement of a high stakes biology assessment test this year and in 2016:

“Today is a brighter day for nearly 2,000 of Washington’s deserving high school seniors who will now get their diplomas.

“They will now be able to further their education and go to college, enter into vocational training, and get jobs which would have otherwise be denied to them without a high school diploma.

“I am so happy for these young adults and their parents. Graduation should be an occasion for celebration. That dream was almost derailed this year for nearly 2,000 wonderful young adults, and even more students and families would have faced this crisis next year. Fortunately these dreams will no longer be derailed.

“But they could have been.

“I continue to believe that our state’s high stakes testing system is unnecessary. The bill introduced today won’t completely solve the problem. I know there is still critical work to do on this issue.

“Our students still face high stakes tests in math and English that might close doors to their futures. And in just a few years, we are scheduled to yet again change which tests count for graduation.

“We need a solution that permanently reforms this system. Let’s make sure that we take a student’s entire academic career into consideration. Let’s make sure we have a system that sets students up for success, not punishes them excessively for our reliance on a broken testing system.

“I look forward to working next session on finding a permanent bipartisan […]

July 8th, 2015|Uncategorized|
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    The Most Difficult Challenge Of The Session – Education Funding

The Most Difficult Challenge Of The Session – Education Funding

News from Sen. Karen Fraser                                         June 22, 2015


Dear Constituents—-

I’m pleased to report that significant progress is being made on THE most difficult challenge of this Session—improving funding for “Basic Education” in order to comply with:

  • The State Supreme Court decision (“McCleary”) which quite clearly defined what constitutes the legal obligations of state government and, thus, statewide taxpayers; and
  • Voter-passed initiatives, including Initiative 1351, approved last Fall, which mandates funding thousands of additional teachers and support staff in our schools.

By several years from now, some estimate the state must increase state K-12 funding by about $5 billion per biennium. This includes the state “taking over” those amounts of “Basic Education” now included in local levies (60-80% of levy amounts) in our 295 school districts.

reading

This HUGE increase makes this one of the most fiscally challenging Sessions in state history.

The new Court-declared prohibition against funding any portion of “Basic Education” from local levies requires the Legislature to find a way to gradually, but quickly, shift the burden off local levies and back on to the state. This is a very complicated challenge!

To some, the good news is that this could result in a reduction in local levies. But, the challenge is how to find the increased state money to fund the state taking over this levy reduction, and also to fund other major Court and voter mandated increases.

This must be achieved without decimating all […]

June 22nd, 2015|E-News|
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    Senate honors retiring Evergreen State College President Dr. Les Purce

Senate honors retiring Evergreen State College President Dr. Les Purce

The Washington State Senate on Tuesday, April 22, 2015 honored the retiring President of The Evergreen State College, Dr. Thomas L. “Les” Purce.

Sen. Karen Fraser spoke in favor of the resolution and of the exemplary work that Dr. Purce has contributed to the College in making it one of the premier liberal arts colleges in Washington State.

Senate Resolution 8650 was adopted unanimously and may be read in its entirety here.

April 21st, 2015|Uncategorized|

Fraser bill signed by Governor Inslee

On Friday, April 17, Gov. Inslee signed legislation sponsored by Sen. Karen Fraser of Thurston County. Senate Bill 5337, brings per diem rates for Washington State port district officials and employees up to the same level and must not exceed the U.S. General Service Administration per diem rates.

April 20th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Poetry Out Loud winners visit State Senate

The winner and runner up to the state Poetry Out Loud Competition visited the Washington State Senate on Friday. Runner up Gabriella Sipe of Olympia High School and winner Alex Hanesworth of Anacortes High School were recognized before the Senate.

2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the competition. Through Poetry Out Loud, students learn how to connect with and analyze literature, build confidence, and master public speaking skills.

“From 22,000 Washington students who participated to just 13 finalists, Alex and Gabriella should be very proud of their accomplishments,” said Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County. “I know I am.”

As the winner, Alex Hanesworth will represent Washington State at the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest in Washington D.C. at the end of this month. She will compete for a $20,000 grand prize.

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition that encourages youth to learn more about poetry through memorization and performance. The state competition is sponsored by ArtsWA, the State’s Art Commission. Participating students may select classic and contemporary poems from a free anthology of more than 800 poems sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation for the Poetry Out Loud program.

April 17th, 2015|Uncategorized|