Monthly Archives: March 2018

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    ’Putting the Women of Washington First’ bills signed into law

’Putting the Women of Washington First’ bills signed into law

March 21st, 2018|

A package of bills to improve the lives of women throughout the state were signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The “Putting Women First” package runs the gamut from equal pay, to the Reproductive Parity Act, to sexual harassment non-disclosure agreements, to removing barriers for harassment lawsuits, to prohibiting discrimination in employment contracts, to requiring breast density screenings and three-dimensional mammograms.

 

3-D Mammograms

  • Senate Bill 5912: Requiring coverage of tomosynthesis, or three-dimensional mammography.

Sen. Patty Kuderer, D- Bellevue: “About one-in-eight women in the United States can expect to develop breast cancer over the course of their lives. We need to be utilizing and supporting the use of early detection technologies so that we are saving lives and sparing families the tragedy of losing their daughters, sisters, mothers and spouses. This legislation will help ensure that economic circumstance or the type of insurance you have is not a barrier to accessing this life-saving technology.”

 

Equal Pay

  • House Bill 1506, companion legislation to Cleveland’s Senate Bill 5140: addressing workplace practices to achieve gender pay equity by instituting penalties for wage discrimination on the basis of gender and for offering lesser opportunities on the basis of gender, and by prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their rate of pay or benefits with other employees.

Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver:

“When I first began fighting for pay equality in 2013, people asked me, ‘Is this still a problem?’ What they didn’t realize is that while the Equal Pay Act of 1943 called for equal pay between men and women for comparable work, the reality is that society has not caught up. Today women earn an average of 79 cents on the dollar compared to men with the same experience doing the same work.”

 

Reproductive Parity Act

  • Senate Bill 6219: The Reproductive Parity Act requires almost all health plans to cover all types of reproductive health care without cost sharing. It also requires all health plans that cover maternity care to cover abortion services. The bill was first introduced in 2012.

Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens: “Washington state has long strived to ensure women control their own reproductive destiny. This law guarantees that right and also helps provide a little more certainty for women in our state. At a time when access to health care and services are at risk all across our country, I’m proud that once again our state has stood up to protect these rights.”

 

Sexual Harassment Prevention

  • Senate Bill 5996: Encouraging the disclosure and discussion of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace.
  • Senate Bill 6313: Preserving an employee’s right to publicly file a complaint or cause of action.
  • Senate Bill 6471: Relating to developing model policies to create workplaces that are safe from sexual harassment.

Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines: “I have been working on addressing sexual harassment for quite some time, and passing this group of bills is great news for the women of Washington. Right now, we are seeing a cultural shift when it comes to what is acceptable in the workplace. Women are demanding a change, and it is incumbent that those with power listen. The fact that these bills were passed unanimously by both Democrats and Republicans shows how seriously the Legislature is taking this issue.”

 

Sexual Harassment NDAs

  • Senate Bill 6068: Shedding light on sexual harassers by removing barriers to lawsuits created by non-disclosure agreements.

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle: “In recent months, we have all been struck by the sheer volume and national discussion of prominent sexual harassment incidents across the country. We have seen that powerful perpetrators and enablers on company boards and other entities have hidden behind non-disclosure agreements to prevent the truth about patterns of behavior from coming out. This bill will lead to more truth and justice for victims.”

 

Breast Density

  • Senate Bill 5084: Providing women with timely information to improve early detection of breast cancer.

Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island: “This legislation simply allows a woman access to the same breast health information as her doctor. Knowledge is power, and this legislation will give patients the tools to make smart decisions and ask better questions about their own health.”

 

 

Access to Democracy bills signed into law

March 19th, 2018|

Five bills aimed at increasing voting access, representative government and exposing hidden money in elections were signed into law Monday by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The Access to Democracy package – which includes The Washington Voting Rights Act, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, 16-17 year old pre-registration and The DISCLOSE Act – were all part of the Senate Democrats’ early action agenda.

 

Same-Day Voter Registration
Voter apathy is a disturbing trend nationwide, fueled in part by some state laws that restrict voting rights. Same-day voter registration could increase voter turnout by up to 10 percent. This bill will ensure every eligible voter in Washington State can register and vote in person on Election Day. They’ll also be able to register electronically or by mail up to eight days before Election Day. (SB 6021)

Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue: “We have all watched as voter participation has declined by double digits over the past decades, hitting a record low in 2017 with only 37 percent of voters casting a ballot. Today we send a strong signal around our state, and around the country, that when Democrats lead we fight for access to democracy and break down barriers to participation. Every voice matters.”

 

Washington Voting Rights Act

The Washington Voting Rights Act will remove barriers in existing law to ensure fair representation as well as authorize a collaborative process so that impacted communities and local governments can reach agreement without resorting to litigation. (SB 6002)

Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, D-Seattle: “The Washington Voting Rights Act puts power back into the hands of the people, where it belongs. It will empower disenfranchised communities and people of color to elect leaders who better reflect their concerns and the rich diversity of our state. This is a big step forward in achieving a truly representative government.”

 

Automatic Voter Registration

This bill provides automatic voter registration when citizens obtain enhanced driver’s licenses or identification cards through the Department of Licensing.   Other state agencies that require citizenship will be able to provide automatic voter registration after they assess their capability and receive the governor’s approval. (HB 2595/SB 6353)

Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia: “Voting is a right, not a privilege. A strong government is built on access to democracy, and the right to vote is the key.  Automatic voter registration is one of the major steps Washington is taking to provide the most progressive, secure voter registration and election system in the country. This bill will make registering to vote as easy as saying ‘yes’ for anyone who is legally eligible to vote in our state.”

 

The DISCLOSE Act

The DISCLOSE Act is a nation-leading transparency effort to ensure campaign finance disclosure by nonprofits that participate in elections. Until now, political action committees must disclose their donors but other nonprofits have been exempt. The result has been a significant increase in campaign dark money flowing through these non-profit groups. (SB 5991)

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane: “Voters have the right to know who’s paying for a campaign. Whatever you care about in your community, whether it be healthcare, education, or any other issue, it is vital to know who is paying to influence those who are making our laws,” said Billig. “The Washington DISCLOSE Act shines a light on dark money, which creates better informed voters, increases accountability, and reduces the opportunity for corruption, all of which results in a stronger democracy.”

 

Pre-Registration for 16 and 17 year olds

The biggest indicator as to whether or not a person engages in government is their status as a registered voter. The aim of this bill is to get people civically engaged early as 16 and 17 year olds, making them more likely to vote once they turn 18. (HB 1513/SB 5110)

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane: “This package of bills will increase transparency and equity in our democracy. By increasing access for more voters alongside clear information, we can have a truly engaged and informed electorate.”

 

Letter To Governor Urges Veto Of ESB 6617

March 2nd, 2018|

Last week, Governor Inslee vetoed Senate Bill 6617, the Legislative Public Records Act (LPRA).  After hearing from the people of the 48th District, I believe it was the right decision.

I originally supported this legislation because it expanded transparency and accessibility, while protecting constituent privacy, a priority for me given the personal stories of tragedy and heartache often shared by citizens seeking help.

However, it is clear the process we used was wrong.

The good news is the parties to the lawsuit have agreed to stay Judge Lanese’s decision, and we now have an opportunity to start over.  A task force made up of open government advocates, media representatives, members of the public and legislators will convene to work on this issue over the interim.

The Legislature can then take up new, fully considered public disclosure legislation next session, when the people of the 48th District will have another opportunity to make their voices heard.

Thank you all for reaching out to my office. I work for you and your input is essential to ensure a strong, functioning democratic process.

Best Regards,

Sen. Patty Kuderer

 

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    Senate passes legislation to provide car tab relief, keep ST3 projects funded

Senate passes legislation to provide car tab relief, keep ST3 projects funded

March 1st, 2018|

The Washington state Senate today passed legislation to alleviate recent cost increases for car tabs in the Puget Sound. Senate Bill 5955, sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, would implement a car tab calculation scale which more accurately reflects true car valuations and provides credit refunds to taxpayers who purchased tabs before September 1, 2018.

“We have heard clearly from both taxpayers and transportation advocates that we need to come to a workable solution that respects the will of the voters to fund Sound Transit projects and provides needed relief to car tab purchasers. This legislation finds that balance,” said Kuderer. “The completed ST3 projects will be an essential resource for commuters and working families in the near future, but we must be responsive to their needs in the present.”

Funding for ST3 projects will be ensured by exempting Sound Transit from the sales and use tax offset fee for up to $518 million. If Sound Transit is able to complete the projects in the timeframe approved by voters, the fee exemption will be lifted and the funds dispersed to the Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account.

“The long-term health and timely delivery of these projects is paramount,” said Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “I think we’ve reached an even compromise on projects as well as car tab relief for folks in these counties who have been saddled with unfair costs. I applaud Sen. Kuderer for her work on this issue and for bringing people together to deliver real relief on behalf of her constituents.”

SB 5955 passed on a vote of 30-14 and now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.