Dear neighbors,

Thank you for joining me for the last 29 years as I have represented our communities in the Legislature. I’m proud to say that this session — my final one — featured important progress for the people of Washington and especially for the people of the 33rd Legislative District. Read on to learn about legislation I prime-sponsored and about funding for local projects that I championed in our state budgets.

Legislative Update

Five bills I sponsored have passed the Legislature and await the governor’s signature or have already been signed into law, and two others have moved to the governor’s desk in the form of House legislation. These bills help neighbors who have failing home soundproofing, curb costs for lifesaving medications, support workers, and much more.

Helping Our Neighbors

SB 5955/HB 2103 will help hundreds of homeowners in communities around Sea-Tac Airport who face disproportionate health risks due to aircraft noise and pollution. Over the past three decades, many homeowners received soundproofing “port packages” from the FAA and the Port of Seattle — including double-pane and triple-pane windows and sound-dampening insulation — but many of those installations have failed. In some cases, windows have leaked and allowed mold to grow between the panes and even infest the houses. This bill establishes a landmark partnership between the Port of Seattle, the State of Washington, King County, cities in the area, and airport communities, in the form of a grant program to help affected homeowners. Rep. Tina Orwall has worked with me on this legislation and sponsored the House companion.

Building Healthier Communities

HB 1979 will cap out-of-pocket costs to patients of asthma inhalers at $35 per month and EpiPens at $35 per two-pack. Prices for these critical items have skyrocketed, because even though the medications are well-established, companies can tweak the devices slightly to keep them under patent. But these medications are not optional for people with serious asthma or allergies – they are a necessity. This out-of-pocket cost cap will increase access and save lives. Rep. Dave Paul sponsored this bill in the House, similar to legislation I sponsored in the Senate (SB 5775).

HB 2467 sponsored by Rep. Nicole Macri, allows workers to move out of state without losing access to long-term care benefits accrued through the WA Cares program. I sponsored similar legislation in the Senate (SB 6072). As a result of that program, 3.5 million working Washingtonians will soon be able to tap into Washington’s long-term care benefits for personal home care, family care, wheelchairs, medical equipment, and home modifications if they have a car accident, pregnancy complications, cancer, dementia, or similar afflictions. Lifetime benefits start at $36,500 in 2026 and could be as much as $60,000 in 20 years with adjustments for inflation.

Supporting Workers

SB 5778, the Employee Free Choice Act, prohibits employers from disciplining or firing workers who refuse to attend meetings consisting of employer opinions on religious or political topics. Washington is the sixth state to pass such a law. The legislation does not prevent employers from requiring attendance at training to reduce and prevent workplace harassment or discrimination. Employers’ speech is not restricted; it’s just that workers are not required to listen.

SB 5632 enables striking workers to maintain healthcare coverage. The loss of coverage is a heavy thumb on the scale against striking workers, and this bill will help level the playing field.

SB 5979 helps properly ensure that construction workers accrue paid sick leave.

SB 5980 improves the notification the Department of Labor & Industries gives to owners of construction sites about hazards, to better ensure safety on building sites.

State funding for local projects

Funding from the capital construction budget will support several projects in the 33rd Legislative District:

  • $5 million for Kent MultiCultural Village, a housing project located next to the upcoming Kent Des Moines Light Rail Station. The project is sponsored by Open Door for Multicultural Families, which supports people with disabilities and their families to receive the services they need.
  • $100,000 for upgrades to the domestic violence shelter and advocacy center of the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network.
  • $100,000 for electrification of the marina and improvements to the shoreside passenger dock in the City of Des Moines.
  • $100,000 for a demonstration project about decontamination of firefighters’ personal protective equipment, in South King County.

Operating budget funding will support the continuation of work in several areas I have advocated for over the years:

  • $168,000 for a dementia services coordinator at the Alzheimer Association.
  • $300,000 for the International Medical Graduate Employment Assistance Program at the International Academy for International Medical Graduates.
  • $40,000 for compensation for professional guardians who serve clients with intellectual and developmental disabilities if they choose to move from a state institution into a community setting.

We also provided funding for more electrical apprentices and authorized the Department of Labor & Industries to staff a light duty dispute resolution center to help ensure that injured workers who return to the job will be assigned appropriate duties.

Stay in Touch

I will be tying up loose ends and continuing my legislative work until December of this year, so please stay in touch. Thank you to all the constituents and advocates who have come to me with problems — and suggestions for solutions — this session and over the past three decades. It has been a great honor and privilege to work with you to leave this state better than we found it. How far we have come!


Sen. Keiser signature

Sen. Karen Keiser
Senate President Pro Tempore
Chair, Senate Labor & Commerce Committee