Eight-year-old Hugo Bujnevicie, a resident of the 33rd Legislative District, convinced lawmakers to approve Rep. Orwall’s bill HB 1222, which requires insurance coverage for hearing aids.
We recently finished a legislative session packed with policies to put people first — bills that will strengthen an economy that works for all, support workers, fund education, grow affordable housing, protect the environment, defend reproductive freedom, and much more. I’m especially proud that every bill I sponsored that passed the Legislature has now been signed into law.
On one issue, our laws regarding drug possession and use, the Legislature needed more time to find a solution. The governor has called us into special session beginning on Tuesday, May 16, so we can pass statewide legislation to bring clarity and strike the right balance between a public health approach and penalties for breaking the law. I have been listening closely to what constituents tell me and especially to the perspective of the city governments in our district, who will have to enforce the new law.
I was thrilled to work on many issues this year that were finally “fixed” and passed into new law, including laws on safe nurse staffing, warehouse worker safety and ergonomics standards for workplace safety. Six bills I sponsored this year have also been signed into law:
- SB 5768 guarantees uninterrupted access to the safe and effective medication mifepristone, which is used in nearly 60% of abortions in our state — 10,000 per year. The bill enables the state Department of Corrections pharmacy to sell and distribute mifepristone to clinics, providers, and others around the state.
- SB 5123 prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants based on pre-employment cannabis tests. Pre-employment testing is an undue burden on people using a perfectly legal substance and deters job candidates unnecessarily.
- SB 5111 ensures construction workers can accrue paid sick leave. All workers should have paid sick leave, which was the intent of the original initiative passed by the people in 2016, and this bill closes a gap between values and execution.
- SB 5729 permanently caps the price of insulin at $35 per month. Insulin is a lifesaving medication first used a century ago, and there is no reason for the price to be so high today. This bill will keep vital prescriptions affordable.
- SB 5453 bans female genital mutilation. Forty U.S. states have already outlawed this cruel practice, which can cause serious consequences for reproductive and mental health. Now Washington is the 41st.
- SB 5088 addresses some important gaps created by past legislation establishing a specialty contractor license for plumbers.
I was also pleased at many of the investments our budgets make in programs I brought forward and projects that will benefit our district.
In particular, the operating budget includes $2.3 million to create an Organized Retail Crime Unit in the Attorney General’s office to coordinate, investigate and prosecute retail crime statewide. Another $2.4 million will go to establish a new public-interest journalism fellowship program in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, which will support reporting focused on topics essential to civic life.
After the special session, I will send out a comprehensive report on this year’s legislative issues and accomplishments.
Telephone town hall
Thank you to everyone who joined my seatmates Rep. Tina Orwall, Rep. Mia Gregerson, and me at our telephone town hall on Thursday, May 4. If you missed it, you can listen to the recording here: https://vekeo.com/whdc33.
Please stay in touch
Don’t hesitate to contact me via the information below. If you’d like to follow what I’m working on, you can like my official legislative Facebook page here. Stay safe and take care.
Sen. Karen Keiser
Senate President Pro Tempore
Chair, Senate Labor & Commerce Committee