Sen. Keiser Newsroom

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

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.

March 19th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Senate votes to create additional commercial airport capacity

Senate votes to create additional commercial airport capacity


“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.


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

March 12th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Sen. Keiser’s 2019 Govt Guide

March 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Sen. Keiser on TVW’s “Inside Olympia”

TVW discuss labor and workers’ rights legislation with Sens. Karen Keiser and Curtis King.
March 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Legislation to increase transparency in drug pricing passed unanimously off the Senate floor today.

OLYMPIA – Legislation to increase transparency in drug pricing passed unanimously off the Senate floor today.

“This bill will go a long way towards revealing the real cost of prescription drugs,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines), sponsor of Senate Bill 5292. “As things stand, we really do not have publicly available drug pricing information. It’s past time to shed some light on this industry.  People should be able to know what the prescription drugs that they need and pay for actually cost to make and distribute. 

“The requirements in the bill are a good starting point for understanding the complicated drug supply chain that continually increases prices. All of us in the Senate have heard horror stories from our constituents about dramatic increases in their prescriptions,” Keiser said. “The unanimous passage of this bill by both Democrats and Republicans shows our state recognizes the urgent and vital need for transparency.”

SB 5292 would require the Health Care Authority (HCA) to compile an annual list of 10 prescription drugs that have a significant impact on state expenditures but are critical for public health. “That’s a good start, but I remain concerned that pharmaceutical companies will still not be required to give us advance notice before implementing large price increases. Advance notice would give consumers more purchasing options,” Keiser said.

SB 5292 would also require other entities in the drug supply chain, like pharmacy benefit managers, insurance carriers, and pharmacy service administrative organizations, to provide information such as rebates received and retained, lists of the costliest prescription drugs, and the impact of prescription drug price increases on premiums.

The HCA would be directed to compile all information collected and prepare an annual report to the Legislature on the overall impact of drug costs on health care premiums.

Having passed off the Senate floor, SB 5292 now heads to the House for further consideration.


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

March 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Senate legislation would protect vulnerable employees from sexual harassment


Senate legislation would protect vulnerable employees from sexual harassment

OLYMPIA – Employees who are vulnerable and isolated at work will have better protection against sexual harassment and assault as a result of legislation that passed unanimously off the Senate floor today. The bill was inspired by the personal stories of hotel housekeepers, office janitors and security guards who often work alone. A Frontline documentary, “Rape on the Night Shift,” revealed the frightening conditions isolated workers face.

“Protecting low-wage, isolated workers is the next step in ensuring 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 or at night are extremely vulnerable to sexual harassment and exploitation,” Keiser said. “This unanimous bipartisan vote helps put us on our way to becoming one of the first states in the nation with expanded protections for vulnerable 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 an electronic panic button to each isolated worker.

Having passed off the Senate floor, SB 5258 now heads to the House for further consideration.


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

February 13th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Keiser: “I heard your concerns, we are not moving forward”


Keiser:  “I heard your concerns, we are not moving forward” 

“Thank you to everyone from across the state who have reached out to us in Olympia. I heard from hundreds of hairdressers who feared Senate Bill 5326 was a threat to their chosen profession. I want to be clear that it was never my intent to cause stress and anxiety to salon workers, much less jeopardize their livelihood. This entire process was an example of how democracy works best.

“As a legislator, it is my responsibility to listen when people tell me something is wrong and to thoughtfully make sure any legislative proposal achieves its intended goals without causing unintended consequences.

“Thanks to your outreach, it was made clear that this bill fell short of those requirements. I will still work hard to promote fair employment practices and will be focusing my time on legislation regarding non-compete clauses, legislation that hairstylists raised in our public hearing as a priority for them.

“That legislation, Senate Bill 5478, would limit non-compete contracts for both employees and independent contractors.

“I look forward to receiving input on SB 5478 and encourage people to continue engaging in the democratic process.” 


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

January 31st, 2019|Uncategorized|

Statement on SB 5326’s public hearing

I’ve heard from dozens of cosmetologists who were fearful that my intent was to take away their livelihood.  Let me say in the strongest possible terms that is not my intent, and I promise you it will not be the outcome of this effort. 

I hope removing the language regarding a booth rental ban will alleviate these concerns. The original bill was not fully understood as a proposal for tax fairness, which remains its primary goal.

The concerns I’ve heard have prompted two key changes to the bill:

  • The section banning booth rentals will be removed.
  • The scope of the bill will be broadened to apply to barbers.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about what the bill actually does. I hope that this hearing will result in a clearer understanding of the legislation.  Bills are always a work in progress, and no bill begins as it ends. 

The bill before us brings forward the question of tax fairness—for both stylists and salon owners, and whether two individuals performing equal work are getting equal treatment. 

Last summer, a Spokane woman who owns a small salon, contacted me to consider what she called the unfair treatment of salon owners who employ cosmetologists.  I was interested in her evidence and looked for corroboration.  I spoke to my own hair salon owner who agreed there was a big problem in the industry with some salon owners treating booth renters more like employees than true independent contractors. 

Research revealed that two states had already acted on this issue passing new laws. My bill was patterned on those successful laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Let me lay out part of the issue in our state: 

In 1991, the legislature passed a law that explicitly states booth renters are independent contractors for the purposes of B&O taxes.  That is current law; booth renters are independent contractors by legal definition. 

This created an unequal tax burden.

Consider two salons:

One is a salon owner who employs six cosmetologists, each of whom generates $50,000 a year in services and product sales.  The salon owner has revenues of $300,000 a year and is subject to our gross receipts tax, known as the B & O tax.  The salon owner must pay B & O taxes on those $300,000 dollars in revenues.

Or take the second case:  Another salon owner rents six booths to six cosmetologists who each generate $50,000 a year.  Each individual booth renter is separately reporting gross receipts that fall below the minimum tax rate of $56,000 a year, that is our state’s small business B & O tax exemption.

So not one penny of B & O tax is generated from the same $300,000 in gross receipts from the same activities. 

SB 5464 is scheduled for public hearing at 10 a.m. Monday before the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce.


For information:    Bre Weider, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7853

January 28th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Keiser: Trump administration is holding workers hostage

OLYMPIA – Addressing the continued federal government shutdown affecting 800,000 workers across the country, Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines) released the following statement:

“I am proud that the state of Washington is working hard to give furloughed federal workers the unemployment benefits they deserve. Our state continues to put working families first in times of need.

“Unfortunately, state unemployment benefits that are being paid to out-of-work employees will need to be refunded by the federal government when it repays those employees the back pay they are due. It’s vital we make sure those funds are fully repaid and that the federal government doesn’t short our state.

“As the chair of the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee, I am working closely with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Department of Labor, and our Washington Congressional Delegation to make the process for overpayment recovery as compassionate and straightforward as possible when the shutdown ends and these employees return to work.

“There are options we are currently exploring, including:

  • Working with the Office of Personnel Management to see if, when backpay is awarded, they would deduct the amount owed by each claimant from their back paycheck and send directly to us. This would ensure the least hassle on behalf of the claimant and is an option we currently allow many employers and claimants.
  • Working with the U.S. Department of Labor to expedite conversations about prior interpretations about federal guidance related to unemployment overpayment recovery.
  • Working with our congressional delegation to try to find ways we can provide assistance to those workers working without pay.

“Almost 80 percent of the American workforce works paycheck to paycheck. These furloughed workers cannot go without a paycheck and still keep up with mortgage or utility payments and other pressing bills. This administration is forcing people to decide between paying their mortgage and taking their sick child to the doctor.

“President Trump is making it eminently clear how he views and values hardworking Americans across our nation.

“For years, we have fought to guarantee employee protections. We must, and will, continue to fight for working people more fiercely than ever.”


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

January 15th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Sen. Keiser’s End of Session Newsletter

Click the link below to read Senator Keiser’s Session Newsletter

2018 Keiser EOS Newsletter

May 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|