Equal Pay Passes!
Last night, on International Women’s Day, the House passed my Equal Pay Opportunity Act! I am so proud to be sponsoring this strong bill for women and families.
This is the third year in a row we’ve passed a version of this legislation off the House floor. If this bill is passed by the Senate, we will bring Washington’s equal pay protections up to pace with many other states across the country!
Our current law, the Washington State Equal Pay Act, hasn’t been updated since 1943, and a change is long overdue. The Equal Pay Opportunity Act would prohibit pay secrecy policies, allow discussion of wages, and prohibit retaliation for asking for equal pay.
Let’s not let women fall farther behind in economic security and fair pay. The time for change is now!
Four family-focused bills fly to the Senate
We’ve been very busy on the House floor. Among the hundreds of bills we sent to the Senate over the last week and a half, I was particularly happy to support four measures that will make a difference in the lives of many Washington women and their families.
HB 1796 requires employers with 15 or more workers to grant reasonable accommodations in the workplace for pregnancy and pregnancy-related health conditions. A “reasonable accommodation” can include more flexible restroom breaks, a modified food/drink policy, and flexible scheduling for prenatal visits.
Making reasonable changes for pregnant women leads to better birth outcomes, healthier mothers and babies, better morale and less turnover in the workplace, and more opportunities for women, especially in physically demanding jobs.
Washington’s Shared Leave Program allows state employees to share annual and sick leave or personal holidays with coworkers who need to take time off work for illness, due to domestic violence, to assist in state emergencies or serve in our armed forces.
HB 1434 expands that list by authorizing a state worker to receive donated leave if the employee is sick or unable to safely work during pregnancy or for parental leave.
I was moved by the words of Rep. June Robinson, the bill’s sponsor, when she said that what this bill does is “human,” because it is the gift of time for people struggling with a pregnancy or who need more bonding with their newborns or adopted babies.
Consistent Access to Birth Control
HB 1234 allows women to receive 12 months of contraception at one time, giving them greater and more consistent access to birth control. Having this access helps ensure that women do not miss doses, as this can result in unintended pregnancies, which can create greater risks for preterm birth and low birth weight. Practical, long-term access to contraception is essential to building healthy families and communities.
The convenience of not having to go to a pharmacy every month will be very welcomed by the hundreds of thousands of women in our state who juggle busy schedules.
Preventive Health Services
HB 1523 requires health plans to cover, with no cost sharing, the same preventive services that are required by federal law as of December 31, 2016, which include:
- Several immunizations.
- Autism screening for children.
- Blood pressure and cholesterol screenings.
- Screenings for diabetes, colorectal cancer, and HIV, among others.
- Contraception for women.
The bill will ensure these services continue to be accessible and affordable in the state of Washington, no matter what happens elsewhere in the country.
Join us for the 41st District Town Hall!
Next Saturday, March 18th, I will be hosting a town hall along with Sen. Lisa Wellman and Rep. Judy Clibborn. Come out and join us from 10 am – 12:30 pm in the Somerset Elementary School gym to discuss issues important to you!
As always, if you have any thoughts, questions, or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know!
Rep. Tana Senn