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    Curious about the Legislative Public Records Act? Click here for the full story

Curious about the Legislative Public Records Act? Click here for the full story

February 28th, 2018|

In recent days, the news media has devoted unusually heavy coverage to the Legislative Public Records Act that was passed Friday by the Legislature. Since then, my office has received a high number of calls and emails from constituents asking about this legislation.

The media is in fact the plaintiff in the legal case that led to the court ruling that is the impetus for this bill, and the vast majority of news coverage has emphasized the media’s arguments while minimizing the Legislature’s side of the story. Not surprisingly, puzzled constituents are calling with lots of questions.

To learn more about this legislation and why it is needed, I encourage you to click here to read a summary, in simple but clear lay terms, that answers the most commonly asked questions. I believe this will give you a fuller picture, including a number of perspectives you will not find in news accounts and editorials on this matter. I urge you to weigh all sides and judge for yourself the merits of what this legislation does.

As you know, I hold strong beliefs in transparency and open government.  This bill has been widely misunderstood, so I appreciate this opportunity to clarify the importance and intent of this bill.

Please know that my door is always open to you and I encourage you to please contact my office if you have additional questions.

Sen. Karen Keiser

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    Bills to address sexual harassment pass off Senate floor, now advance to the House

Bills to address sexual harassment pass off Senate floor, now advance to the House

February 8th, 2018|

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Feb. 8, 2018

 

Bills to address sexual harassment pass off Senate floor, now advance to the House

 

OLYMPIA — Three bills related to combatting workplace sexual harassment passed off the Senate floor unanimously today.

“I have been working on addressing sexual harassment for quite some time, and passing this group of bills off the floor is great news for the women of Washington,“ said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, sponsor of two of the three bills. “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.”

 

“In recent months, we’ve all been struck by the sheer volume and national discussion of prominent sexual harassment incidents across the country,” said Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, sponsor of Senate Bill 6068. “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.”

 

Brief Summary:

  • Senate Bill 5996 prohibits an employer from requiring an employee, as a condition of employment, to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prevents the employee from disclosing sexual harassment or sexual assault.
  • Senate Bill 6471 relates to developing model policies to create workplaces that are safe from sexual harassment.
  • Senate Bill 6068 would shed light on repeat sexual harassers by removing barriers to lawsuits created by non-disclosure agreements.

 

All three bills will now move to the House for further consideration.

 

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For more information or interviews, Keiser: Bre Weider, (360) 786-7326

For more information or interviews, Frockt: Amelia Dickson, (360) 786-7535

  • Permalink Gallery

    Bills to address sexual harassment pass out Senate committee

Bills to address sexual harassment pass out Senate committee

February 1st, 2018|

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Jan. 31, 2017

 

Bills to address sexual harassment pass out Senate committee

 

OLYMPIA — Three bills related to combatting workplace sexual harassment passed out of the Senate’s Labor & Commerce Committee today.

“I have been working on addressing sexual harassment for quite some time, and passing this group of bills out of committee is great news for the women of Washington,“ said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, chair of the  Senate Labor and Commerce committee. “We heard gut-wrenching testimony in committee from victims explaining the long-term impacts of harassment. It is past time to start addressing sexual harassment in the workplace.

“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.  These bills will provide a path forward for victims to report complaints without fear of losing their jobs or suffering other forms of retaliation. We must no longer limit the economic and career potential of half of our population. We must demand that our workplace ethos shifts to reflect our values of fairness and respect.”

 

Brief Summary:

  • Senate Bill 5996 prohibits an employer from requiring an employee, as a condition of employment, to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prevents the employee from disclosing sexual harassment or sexual assault.
  • Senate Bill 6313 addresses mandatory employment contracts and agreements that limit an employee’s right to file a complaint or cause of action for sexual harassment or sexual assault.
  • Senate Bill 6471 relates to developing model policies to create workplaces that are safe from sexual harassment.

 

All three bills passed out of committee, and will now move to the Rules Committee for further consideration before going to the floor.

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For more information or interviews: Bre Weider, (360) 786-7326

Senate votes to help sick Hanford workers get compensation

January 25th, 2018|

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Jan. 25, 2018

Senate votes to help sick Hanford workers get compensation

OLYMPIA— The state Senate voted late today to expand workers compensation protections to Hanford workers exposed to toxic chemicals while on the job.

“Rep. Larry Haler and I have been working on this bill for quite some time and its passage is great news for the Hanford community, “ said Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, chair of the  Senate Labor and Commerce committee. “We saw gut-wrenching testimony in committee last year. Exposure to heavy metal and radiation has ruined people’s lives.

“I cannot think of a more suitable assertion for this Senate to make than putting our partisan differences aside to put people first. We are seeing people dying from dementia, cancer and lung disease who were systematically left out of workers compensation.

“People went bankrupt paying for cancer treatments. This ordeal has been going on since the 1990s; we have seen a whole generation impacted by this tragedy. That is not right. Our Washington community cares about protecting all workers. ”

Haler, a Richland Republican, sponsored House Bill 1723 in conjunction with Keiser’s Senate Bill 5940. Both bills were moved to the Senate floor to expedite getting the legislation to the governor’s desk as soon as possible.

“It’s important that we take care of workers who have suffered due to being exposed to harmful chemicals and processes at Hanford,” said Rep. Haler. “Despite all the safety precautions taken, families and individuals have been devastated by illness and disease.  They need help.  This bill will help make that easier.  I thank Sen. Keiser for her assistance in getting this important legislation passed for the citizens in my district.”

Currently, Hanford workers compensation claims are rejected at a rate 52 percent higher than the state average, even though Hanford is the most dangerous and toxic worksite in the country. House Bill 1723 establishes a presumption for Hanford nuclear site workers to expand eligibility for workers compensation claims.

House Bill 1723 passed on a 35 to 14 vote and now heads back to the House for concurrence. It will then go to the Governor’s desk for signing.

 

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

 

  • Permalink Gallery

    #MeToo comes to Olympia as Senate hears sexual harassment bills

#MeToo comes to Olympia as Senate hears sexual harassment bills

January 21st, 2018|

The Senate Labor & Commerce Committee will hear three pieces of legislation sponsored by Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

When: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Senate Hearing Room 4.

Where you can watch it live: /www.tvw.org/watch/?eventID=2018011337

Brief Summary:
·  Senate Bill 5996 prohibits an employer from requiring an employee, as a condition of employment, to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prevents the employee from disclosing sexual harassment or sexual assault.
· Senate Bill 6313 addresses mandatory employment contracts and agreements that limit an employee’s right to file a complaint or cause of action for sexual harassment or sexual assault.
· Senate Bill 6471 relates to developing model policies to create workplaces that are safe from sexual harassment.

Quote:
· Sen. Karen Keiser:
· “For a long time, women felt sexual harassment was something we had to deal with just to have careers. I want to make clear that sexual harassment will no longer be accepted, time is up, and we must make a change.

“There’s a burden of humiliation and fear of reprisal that intimidates victims from coming forward. These bills will provide a path forward for victims to report without fear of losing their jobs or suffering other forms of retaliation. We must no longer limit the economic and career potential of half of our population. We must demand that our workplace culture shifts to reflect our values of fairness and respect.” 

South King County lawmakers make legislative history

January 8th, 2018|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, will serve as President Pro Tempore of the Washington State Senate, presiding over the chamber when the lieutenant governor is unavailable.

In addition to these duties, Keiser will also chair the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.

“It is an honor and privilege to be elected by my colleagues to preside as President Pro Tem of the Washington State Senate,” said Keiser. “I look forward to stepping up to the podium and wielding the gavel when Lt. Gov. Habib is unable to preside. I assured my colleagues that I will make every effort to ensure fair, equitable and efficient Senate.”

Keiser’s seatmate in the House, Rep. Tina Orwall, D- Des Moines, serves as Speaker Pro Tempore. This marks the first time in Washington state history that two members from the same district share presiding roles.

Keiser will continue to serve as a member of the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee and the Senate Ways & Means Committee, which produces the operating and capital budgets. She will also serve on the Rules Committee.

“It is time to put partisan bickering aside and put the hardworking people of Washington first,” Keiser said. “I am looking forward to bringing back transparency and accountability to the Senate”.

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For more information: Bre Weider, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7326
For interviews: Sen. Karen Keiser, 360-786-7664

Foreign journalists see Legislature firsthand

November 8th, 2013|

On Thursday, I had the uncommon privilege of hosting a visit from 19 journalists from countries in Africa and the Middle East who spent the bulk of the day learning about our state government and Legislature.

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The journalists, participating in an Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists hosted locally by the World Affairs Council in Seattle, began the day with a tour of TVW. The visit then segued to the John A. Cherberg Building, where they participated in a lively Q&A session I hosted with members of our own Capitol Press Corps, then to the Capitol Dome Deli where Sen. Karen Fraser joined me for 90 more minutes of Q&A with the journalists over lunch. From there, the group enjoyed a tour of our Capitol building and then met with the governor’s communications staff.

I was particularly struck by the insights revealed by the journalists’ various questions. They not only showed a keen interest in the details of how our public process works — from the Legislature to the initiative process — but demonstrated an impressive knowledge of national issues that have impacted our state and even key legislation at the state level such as marriage equality and legalization of marijuana. They were keenly up on local current events, including our sudden call to a special legislative session and the Boeing proposals that surround it. I was left with the impression they could have fill in for our savvy Washington Press Corps and barely miss a beat.

Keiser

  • Permalink Gallery

    Sen. Keiser: ‘Move beyond score settling and pass immigration reform’

Sen. Keiser: ‘Move beyond score settling and pass immigration reform’

October 24th, 2013|

OLYMPIA – Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, today joined with President Obama to call for Congressional action on immigration reform. Keiser was among the longtime reform supporters invited to the White House by the president to urge Congress to pass bipartisan reforms to the United States immigration system:

“Today I was proud to stand with President Obama and join in his call for a fix to our broken immigration system. The time to act is now. Persistence, activism and passion have brought us to the brink of passing reforms that will help our economy and benefit millions of people. It is time to take the next step, move past partisan barriers and pass an immigration reform bill.

“The President described immigration reform as more than just an idea whose time had come, but an idea whose time had been around for years and an idea that both Democrats and Republicans support. I could not agree more. At a time when partisan bickering has shutdown our government and threatened our economy with the first government default in 200 years, immigration reform is something that both parties can come together on.

“Both parties agree that fixing immigration will benefit our country and our state. It is good for security, the economy and the people of the United States. In inviting the brightest minds in the world to study in the United States and to open businesses here, we grow our economy and ensure that the United States continues to be a home for innovation and a place where ideas become successful realities. In passing legislation to eliminate the shadow economy, we seek competitive wages and benefits for workers, to grow our middle class and make the American Dream a reality for millions.

“There will always be political disagreements, but to put up a roadblock on issues we do agree on is irresponsible and it is not what we were elected to do. Our citizens elected us to lead, not to ignore common sense reforms in the hope of scoring political points. In passing immigration reform, we have the opportunity to send a message to the people of the United States that we are capable of moving past political score settling and supporting reforms that have overwhelming public support.

“The President was right to describe supporters of these reforms as not easily deterred and unwilling to give up. We have come too far and are too close to success to stop now. Now is the time to act and I join the call to members of Congress to come together and pass a bill that moves immigration reform beyond an idea whose time has come and instead write a law whose benefits are clear.”

  • Permalink Gallery

    AUDIO: Keiser discusses the healthcare exchange on KIRO Radio

AUDIO: Keiser discusses the healthcare exchange on KIRO Radio

October 1st, 2013|

Sen. Karen Keiser joined Dave Ross and Linda Thomas on KIRO Radio to discuss the opening of the new healthcare exchange.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Health coverage for $100 or less coming soon to Washington

September 18th, 2013|

Fifty-six percent of Washingtonians currently without health insurance may be able to arrange coverage through wahealthplanfinder for less than $100 a month, Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, said today.

Keiser cited a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the options available to Washingtonians as of Oct. 1, when individual and families may begin shopping for coverage through the new health insurance marketplace accessible here in Washington at www.wahealthplanfinder.org. The coverage would begin in January, giving those without coverage three months to decide which plan fits their needs best.

“Thanks to Obamacare and the changes we’re implementing in our state, more affordable health care is only a few months away,” Keiser said following a conference call with President Barack Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Quality, affordable coverage is about to become a reality for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians.”

Those currently without coverage will be able to compare their options using side-by-side information about price, quality and benefits, Keiser said, and find out if they qualify for premium tax credits or Medicaid that lower the costs of coverage immediately.

Of the 41.3 million individuals across the country who are uninsured and eligible for coverage, 23.2 million (56 percent) may qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or tax credits to purchase coverage for $100 or less per month.  The amount an individual will save on premiums depends on their family income and size.  The HHS report uses data about family income and size from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to estimate the number of uninsured individuals who will qualify for lower costs on monthly premiums.

The report also shows that if all 50 states took advantage of new options to expand Medicaid coverage, nearly 8 out of every 10 people (78 percent) who currently do not have insurance could be paying less than $100 a month for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, known more informally as Obamacare.  While some states are expanding their Medicaid programs in 2014, other states are not doing so.  Under the health care law, states can receive 100 percent federal funding in 2014 to expand their Medicaid programs to cover people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level.  That’s about $15,800 a year for an individual, or about $32,500 for a family of four.

The full report is available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/Uninsured/ib_uninsured.pdf. To find out more about who qualifies for lower costs on monthly healthy insurance premiums, go to https://www.healthcare.gov/will-i-qualify-to-save-on-monthly-premiums/. To compare plans available here in Washington, go to http://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/.