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33rd LD Delegation to host coffee hours

August 20th, 2019|

Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines), and Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac), will host coffee hours around the 33rd Legislative District. The coffee hours will be held at:

“The meetings are a chance for neighbors to come to us with questions, concerns, or ideas for improving our communities,” Keiser said.

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    Nation’s strongest paid family and medical leave program in place on time

Nation’s strongest paid family and medical leave program in place on time

August 1st, 2019|

Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) released the following statement as Washington state readies to fully implement paid family and medical leave:

“This coming January, Washington state will begin paying benefits through the strongest paid family and medical leave program in the country.

“The program offers 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave per year. That means new mothers and fathers will now be able to stay with their infants in those first precious days. It means grandparents will be able to lean on their adult children in times of sickness. It strengthens families and makes our communities more resilient.

“When the Legislature approved the groundbreaking program in 2017, we incurred a responsibility to see it implemented without hitch, on time, and on budget.

“Two years later, that implementation has been a rousing success.

“When the bill was passed, the Legislature lent the Employment Security Department $82 million to set up the program before premiums could cover its operating costs. That loan was repaid in full, with interest, on June 28—three days ahead of schedule.

“ESD exceeded all expectations for a program implementation of this size. Their team built an agile technology system, worked with their advisory committee to develop implementation rules, and coordinated outreach and education to more than 240,000 employers across the state.

“They have done a terrific job. We can now rest assured that benefits will be available on schedule this January. For those who have friends thinking of having children, you can tell them with confidence — it’s ok to get pregnant now.”

If salaried employees work overtime, compensate them fairly

June 10th, 2019|

By Karen Keiser and Mike Sells

Special to The Times

Questions about why wages remained flat during the 10-year economic recovery since the Great Recession have been asked over and over without clear answers. Well, here’s one reason: Millions of salaried workers are not getting overtime pay.

One of the greatest victories of the labor movement was the right to a 40-hour workweek, enshrined in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. That right recognizes that all workers need time for rest and recovery — but, if they’re going to be required to work overtime, they should be fairly compensated.

Today, it’s too easy to make employees exempt from overtime wages simply by calling them “managers” and paying them a few dollars more than the federal overtime threshold of $23,660 a year to comply with current law. That threshold was set in 2004 and hasn’t been raised since.

Although a few one-time adjustments have been made, the exemption thresholds were not tied to inflation, and protections for salaried workers have eroded over time. In the 1970s, 63 percent of salaried workers were covered by overtime laws. Today, that number is less than 7 percent.

With efforts to make progress stalled at the federal level, Washington state is now taking the lead. A new rule proposed by the state Department of Labor & Industries would increase the salary threshold and expand overtime protections to cover a quarter million more Washingtonians. After another three-month period of feedback, L&I will prepare a final rule.

Washington’s salaried workers urgently need this proposed rule because the status quo is woefully inadequate.

During comment on this rule, Washingtonians came forward with stories of how the lack of overtime protections affects them — stories of workers being required to work 80-90 hours per week during the holiday season without additional pay; of postdoctoral researchers who qualify for low-income housing even while working late nights and weekends in their labs; of construction “managers” working 60 hours a week without overtime pay, while doing tasks previously performed by hourly employees who qualified for overtime.

Our current Washington state rule is even weaker than the federal standard and would only protect workers who earn less than $13,000 per year.

In addition, our state’s job-duty descriptions mean thousands of employees are exempt from overtime protections by being misclassified as management even though they have no actual management authority.

These rules no longer serve the purpose for which they were made. More and more workers are working more and more hours, but not getting paid for it. It’s one of the hidden reasons why wage rates have been so stubbornly low despite our economic recovery.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed extending overtime protections to workers earning up to $47,000 and adjusting for inflation. This would have guaranteed protection to 4.2 million more workers across the country. But President Donald Trump killed that rule. A new federal proposal for a lower threshold of $35,000 has yet to be adopted.

Given the uncertainty and lack of adequate progress at the federal level, it is important we set clear, fair standards for Washingtonians at the state level.

The proposed state rule is the result of extensive data collection and public feedback. The state Department of Labor & Industries has clear statutory authority for this rule-making, and has conducted a thorough and transparent 18-month process.

In response to feedback from the business community, the new rule provides a lengthy seven-year phase-in period for all businesses and allows small businesses to start the phase-in at a lower threshold. Starting next summer, companies with 50 or fewer employees would have to pay an exempt employee at least $35,000 per year. Larger employers would have to pay about $49,000 per year. Those thresholds would increase yearly based on a formula tied to the state’s minimum wage, rising to 2.5 times minimum wage by 2026.

We know businesses are better off when their workers are compensated fairly, which reduces turnover. And local economies are stronger when more money goes into the pockets of workers who will spend it close to home.

Time is precious. Recognizing the value of workers’ time is good for workers and their families. It’s also good for employers and our communities.

Karen Keiser chairs the Washington State Senate Labor & Commerce Committee. A Democrat, she represents the 33rd Legislative District including parts of Burien, Normandy Park, SeaTac, Kent and Des Moines.

Mike Sells chairs the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee. A Democrat, he represents the 38th Legislative District, which includes parts of Everett and Marysville.

VIDEO: Recommendation for major new airport coming by 2022

May 20th, 2019|

From KIRO7:

In Keiser’s district around Sea-Tac, people feel the impact of plane noise and pollution.

“We are really at near capacity at Sea-Tac Airport and it’s the smallest international airport in the country with no room to grow so we have got to figure out some options here,” Keiser said.

The governor will appoint commissioners, who are required to come up with a list of six possible airport locations by Jan. 1, 2021.

It must be narrowed to two options by Sept. 1, 2021, with a single preferred location decided by Jan. 1, 2022.

“We have to do environmental studies, we have to work with our communities, a lot of pieces are in play, but if you don’t make that first determination of potential sites you can’t even get started,” Keiser said.

Watch the video here: https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/recommendation-for-major-new-airport-coming-by-2022/949913410

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    Keiser legislation to protect ‘isolated’ employees from sexual harassment signed into law

Keiser legislation to protect ‘isolated’ employees from sexual harassment signed into law

May 14th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Legislation to better protect employees who work in isolated environments against sexual harassment was signed into law this week.

“I have been working on addressing sexual harassment for quite some time. Protecting low-wage, isolated workers is the next step in achieving a harassment-free workplace for us all,” said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, sponsor of Senate Bill 5258.

“Housekeepers, janitors, security guards, and other individuals working alone on the night-shift are extremely vulnerable to sexual harassment and exploitation,” Keiser said. “This bill was voted off the floor of the Senate and House in a bipartisan manner. The legislation now makes Washington one of the first states in the nation with expanded protections for isolated employees.”

The final version of SB 5258 will require certain employers that employ isolated workers to adopt a sexual harassment policy, provide mandatory sexual harassment training, provide a list of resources to employees, and provide a panic button to each isolated worker.

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    Keiser legislation to create additional commercial airport capacity signed by Governor Inslee.

Keiser legislation to create additional commercial airport capacity signed by Governor Inslee.

May 14th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Legislation (Senate Bill 5370) establishing an airport commission tasked with identifying up to six possible sites for future commercial aviation was signed by Governor Inslee this week. “The time for studies is over, now we need to make some tough decisions,” said Senator Karen Keiser, the prime sponsor of the legislation.

Sea-Tac International Airport is the fastest growing airports in the nation, and is also the smallest international airport in the country.  In 2009, state estimates projected 30 million passengers would travel through Sea-Tac. However, by 2018, passenger travel reached nearly 50 million in a single year.

“This is a great step forward to facing the reality that we need more statewide commercial aviation choices.  Our economy and our residents will deserve good decisions on these critical choices,” said bill sponsor Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines. “If you’ve flown in or out of Sea-Tac International Airport recently you know we already face flight delays, gate limitations, and terminal congestion as everyday events. Additional commercial airport options—whether it is brand new or a build-out of existing facilities — makes sense for our state, our economy and our citizens.”

The new commission must make recommendations to additional commercial airport facilities for our state by 2021.  Senate Bill 5370 is supported by the Washington Ports Association and the Port of Seattle Commissioners as well as the airport-impacted cities of Burien, SeaTac and Des Moines.

Substitute Senate Bill No. 5370 Relating to creating a state commercial aviation coordinating commission. Primary Sponsor: Karen Keiser
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    Bill to choose potential sites for future commercial airports moves to Governor

Bill to choose potential sites for future commercial airports moves to Governor

April 27th, 2019|

OLYMPIA – Legislation (Senate Bill 5370) creating a pathway to develop new commercial aviation facilities in the state heads to Gov. Jay Inslee following final passage by the House and Senate the day before the 2019 Legislative session is scheduled to adjourn.  A new 15-member commission will be tasked with reviewing options and making decisions on potential sites for future aviation facilities. 

Sea-Tac International Airport is the fastest growing airports in the nation. In 2009, state estimates projected 30 million passengers would travel through Sea-Tac. However, by 2018, passenger travel reached nearly 50 million in a single year.

“The opening of the new two-gate passenger terminal at Everett’s Paine Field is a welcome relief, but it will not solve the long-term need to find additional commercial airport capacity in our state,” said bill sponsor Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines). “If you’ve flown in or out of Sea-Tac recently you know we already face flight delays, gate limitations, and terminal congestion as everyday events. Another commercial airport—whether it is brand new or a build-out of existing facilities — makes sense for our state, our economy and our citizens.”

The new commission must review options and make decisions on possible locations for new commercial aviation facilities for both passenger and air cargo services.  The bill requires decisions on at least two options by 2022. 

“Increased air traffic from Sea-Tac in recent years highlights the need for additional airport capacity,” said Rep. Tina Orwall (D-Des Moines) who sponsored similar legislation in the House. “As our state continues to flourish, this new commission will help us better understand our growing commercial airport needs, and what new opportunities exist to expand in other areas of the state.”

Senate Bill 5370 is supported by the Washington Ports Association and the Port of Seattle Commissioners, as well as the airport-impacted cities of Burien, SeaTac and Des Moines.

The legislation passed with broad bipartisan support out of both chambers, and it now goes to the Governor’s desk for signing.

Keiser legislation to protect ‘isolated’ employees from sexual harassment passes out of the Legislature.

April 12th, 2019|

Keiser legislation to protect ‘isolated’ employees from sexual harassment passes out of the Legislature.

OLYMPIA – Employees who work in isolated environments will have better protection against sexual harassment as a result of legislation that passed out of both chambers of the Legislature, last night.

“I have been working on addressing sexual harassment for quite some time. Protecting low-wage, isolated workers is the next step in achieving a harassment-free workplace for us all,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), sponsor of Senate Bill 5258.

“Housekeepers, janitors, security guards, and other individuals working alone on the night-shift are extremely vulnerable to sexual harassment and exploitation,” Keiser said. “This bill was voted off the floor of the Senate and House in a bipartisan manner. This passage of this legislation makes Washington one of the first states in the nation with expanded protections for isolated employees.”

SB 5258 would require certain employers that employ isolated workers to adopt a sexual harassment policy, provide mandatory sexual harassment training, provide a list of resources to employees, and provide a panic button to each isolated worker.

Having passed off both the House and Senate floor, SB 5258 now heads to the Governor’s desk for signing 

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For information:    Bre Weider, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326

MEDIA ADVISORY: 33rd Legislative District Town Hall, Saturday, March 23

March 19th, 2019|

Who: Senator Karen Keiser, Representative Tina Orwall and Representative Mia Gregerson

What: Town Hall meeting with 33rd Legislative District constituents

When: Saturday, March 23 at 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Where: LiUNA! Local 242 Labor Hall, 22323 Pacific Hwy S, Des Moines

Why: The 33rd District legislators will provide a legislative session update and answer constituent questions. This event is family friendly.

Please contact Sen. Keiser (360-786-7664), Rep. Tina Orwall (360-786-7834) or Rep. Mia Gregerson (360-786-7868) for questions. 

For those unable to attend the event, there will be a 33rd Legislative District Telephone Town Hall on Wednesday, March 27 at 6:30pm.

Senate votes to create additional commercial airport capacity

March 12th, 2019|

Senate votes to create additional commercial airport capacity

OLYMPIA –

“The opening of the new two-gate passenger terminal at Everett’s Paine Field is a welcome relief, but it will not solve the long-term need to find additional commercial airport capacity in our state” said Senator Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), sponsor of Senate Bill 5470 which passed the Senate by a vote of 45-1. 

“If you’ve flown in or out of Sea-Tac recently you know we already face flight delays, gate limitations, and terminal congestion as everyday events,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), sponsor of Senate Bill 5370.  The legislation establishes an airport commission to identify up to six possible sites for future commercial aviation in our state with the direction to narrow the search for either new or expanded airport facilites with a two-year process.  The commission must also develop a timeline for developing an additional commercial aviation facility that will be functional by 2040. 

“Sea-Tac is the fastest growing airport in the nation in passengers, and air cargo volume has more than doubled in the last decade.  It is also the smallest international airport in the nation, with only half the space of many other major airports,” Keiser said.

“Moreover, there’s no more room to grow because I-5, Highway 99, Highway 509 and Highway 599 surround SeaTac’s perimeter. Another airport—whether it is brand new or a build-out of existing facilities — makes sense for our state, our economy and our citizens. ”

SB 5370 was supported by the Washington Ports Association and the Port of Seattle Commissioners, as well as the airport-impacted cities of Burien, SeaTac and DesMoines. 

Having passed off the Senate floor, SB 5370 now heads to the House for further consideration.

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For information:    Bre Weider, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326