With just three weeks left in the legislative session, we are hitting our stride for the sprint to the finish. We have already accomplished a lot, passing bills based on carefully collected data, allowing us to establish evidence-based practices.
Here are a few highlights.
The Senate passed three of my bills to curb out-of-control prescription drug prices. These bills are the result of data collected in a multi-year effort that began with the All Payer Claims Database that we set up several years ago as well as last year’s prescription drug price transparency legislation. You can learn more about the bills and our long-term efforts by watching this week’s Inside Olympia.
- SB 6087 would cap the out-of-pocket cost to patients for insulin at $100 per month.
- SB 6088 would establish a prescription drug affordability board that would review prices to see if maximum price caps are needed.
- SB 6113 would create a centralized purchasing process for insulin, based on the approached used by the state to purchase childhood vaccines.
In addition, the Senate passed my bill, SB 6419, which marks a turning point in the long debate about rehabilitation centers for people with developmental disabilities. All parties got together, and we found a way forward that makes services more available, more appropriate, and more comprehensive while preserving vital funding. For the first time in 40 years, we have a path that will provide people with options for community care close to home, as well as for nursing home care and state centers of excellence.
Of the 50 bills that moved out of the Labor & Commerce Committee, the Senate has passed 27, all with strong bipartisan support. A few highlights include:
- SB 6034 would extend the statute of limitations for filing a pregnancy discrimination complaint from six months to one year.
- SB 5473 would study exceptions to current unemployment insurance law to allow workers who become unemployed due to family caregiving responsibilities to collect benefits. The benefits could also be allowed for workers whose job duties increase substantially, or whose working conditions change significantly with no increase in pay.
- SB 6096 would require the state to consider the potential for labor law violations when contracting with social service providers to ensure state contractors adhere to fair workplace standards.
- SB 6122 would extend workplace safety protections to temporary workers in construction, manufacturing and industrial engineering, who face a high risk of injury and death.
- SB 6440 would reduce the burden placed upon injured workers subjected to independent medical examinations in workers compensation cases. It would require the exams to occur in a location convenient to the injured worker, eliminate no-show fees if a worker gives at least five days’ notice, and establish a work group to improve the exam process.
- SB 6473 would restrict the use of asbestos in construction, improve labeling requirements, and require safer management of known installations of asbestos.
- SB 6170 would modernize the plumbing code for the first time in 45 years, make apprenticeships more accessible, and protect consumers by making certification more transparent.
- SB 5236 would increase apprenticeship programs in public education and in the health care industry.
- SB 6217 would give SeaTac’s port commissioners the authority to close a loophole exploited by business to pay workers less than the local minimum wage.
- SB 6261 would strengthen our agricultural sector by holding farm labor contractors accountable for their recruiting practices.
If you’d like to follow what I’m working on in Olympia, you can like my official legislative Facebook page here.
Please don’t hesitate to stay in touch.
Senator Karen Keiser
Chair, Senate Labor & Commerce Committee
Senate President Pro Tempore