Today we welcome Senator Karen Keiser, one of the mastermind's behind Bill 5835 in Washington State. This bill, also known as The Healthy Outcome in Pregnancy Bill, passed on International Women's Day in 2017.
It is surprising that there is still a big lack of resources for pregnant women in the US.
For way too long we have assumed that our medical system was doing a great job of taking care of pregnant women and babies. We are actually falling behind in the world in terms of maternal health and infant health. Serious focus and attention needs to be placed on the high rates of maternal and infant deaths in the US, which is higher than most developed countries, except Mexico.
The Senate Bill 5835 requires employers to accommodate the needs of pregnant women, reasonable accommodations. They need to make sure women can get enough food and water during the workday, and that there are limits on lift weights, and that is not always happening these days.
They have created this as a pilot program in hopes that other states can adopt these type of standards as well.
Senator Karen Keiser
Senator Karen Keiser represents Washington state’s 33rd Legislative District, which includes a number of suburbs south of Seattle, including SeaTac, Kent, Des Moines and Burien. During her tenure as an elected official, which began in the House of Representatives in 1996 and continued in the Senate in 2001, she has held several leadership positions in the Washington state Legislature including as Chair of the Senate Health Care Committee and lead Senate Democratic negotiator on the Capital Budget. She currently serves as the President Pro Tempore of the Washington State Senate and Chair of the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.
As the long serving Chair of the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee, Keiser was a pivotal leader in passing and implementing health care reform in Washington state under the Affordable Care Act, and remains a leader on health policy proposals. Her bills to create a state Alzheimer’s Plan and her work on nursing home reforms has shaped the future for long term care services in Washington state.
Senator Keiser has an abiding interest in policies to help working families and improve women’s economic security. She was the original sponsor of Washington state’s Family Care Act that allowed employees to use their earned sick leave to care for ill family members. She was also the prime sponsor of the Washington state Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program that was passed into law in 2007, but not funded due to the “great recession.”
In 2017, Senator Keiser served as the lead Senate Democrat in negotiations with Republicans and members of the business and labor community to bring paid family and medical leave insurance to Washington State. The historic legislation, making Washington only the 5th state to provide such a program, was signed into law on July 5, 2017.
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