Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, has been recommended by the Senate Democratic Caucus this week to retain her chairmanship of the Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee and her seats on the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Senate Rules Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee.
In addition to those roles, Kohl-Welles said she will continue to prioritize human trafficking issues on which she has worked over the past 10 years, as well as child sexual exploitation and abuse, and the protection of worker rights.
Kohl-Welles has worked energetically since 2002 to eliminate human trafficking; 10 of her anti-trafficking bills in that time have been enacted into law. Many of her bills were the first of their kind in the United States, including addressing labor and sex trafficking, and commercial sexual abuse and exploitation of minors.
“These abhorrent problems will not go away until we make them go away, and I will not go away until we are successful in this battle,” Kohl-Welles said. “The current status quo under which women, children and other vulnerable members of society are regularly exploited and victimized is unacceptable.”
Additional areas Kohl-Welles intends to focus on include expanding the ability of school personnel across the state to better detect and respond to incidents of sexual abuse of children, wage theft, and other illegal practices that undermine worker compensation and benefits.
Kohl-Welles also is supportive of Democratic proposals discussed this week to enhance collaboration across the aisle. For example, a proposed Committee on Education Finance & Results would be equally split between Republicans and Democrats and led by a co-chair from each party to develop ways to comply with the state Supreme Court’s ruling in the McCleary case. Another Democratic proposal is to reduce the partisan majority on Senate committees by giving the majority party just one more member than the minority party on the Senate Ways & Means and Transportation committees, the Senate Rules Committee and all policy committees. No majority, Republican or Democratic, has allowed for such a narrow split in at least a decade.
Kohl-Welles is a member of the University of Washington Women’s Center’s Anti-Trafficking Task Force which is planning a Jan. 2013 conference, “Human Trafficking in an Era of Globalization: Forced Labor, Involuntary Servitude and Corporate & Civic Responsibility.”