Washington Legislative Update: Rep. Laurie Jinkins Elected Speaker of the House

Source: Brad Boswell, CleanTech Alliance Lobbyist, July 31, 2019.

Today marks the 95th day since the 2019 legislative session ended. By and large, legislators are focused in their districts and interacting with their constituents. July and August tend to be the slowest months in the legislative calendar year.  

Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins, D-27

The biggest intrigue of the past few months was sparked by Speaker Frank Chopp announcing his resignation as Speaker of the House at the end of the 2019 legislative session. Four candidates have been actively working throughout the interim to secure support for their candidacy. The caucus came together today at a 10 AM meeting in SeaTac and elected Representative Laurie Jinkins as the new Speaker of the House. Speaker Jinkins’ bio can be found here. This marks a significant change in the Washington State Legislature as Speaker Chopp served for over 20 years in that role–the longest serving Speaker in the country. 

There is still a considerable amount of other activity taking place including two special elections happening this fall. Senator Liz Lovelett is seeking reelection to complete the remainder of her term in the 40th district (Whatcom County). She was appointed in January to fill the seat vacated by Kevin Ranker. This is heating up to be a fairly interesting primary battle between Lovelett, Democrats Greta Aitken and Carrie Blackwood, and Republican Daniel Miller. While there are three Democrats and one Republican contender, Washington advances the top two Primary vote-getters regardless of party, so there is a strong possibility that two Democrats could make it through to the General election in November. The other special election is taking place in the 13th district (Yakima) where Representative Alex Ybarra is seeking to complete the remainder of his term after stepping into the House seat vacated by Matt Manweller at the beginning of the 2019 Session. He is being challenged by Democrat Steve Verhey of Ellensburg. 

As has been broadly reported, Senator Guy Palumbo (D-1) submitted his resignation shortly after the legislative session concluded to accept a position with Amazon. Subsequently, Representative Derek Stanford of the 1st district was appointed to fill Palumbo’s open Senate seat and Bothell City Councilwoman Davina Duerr was appointed to replace Stanford in the House. This reshuffling has left a vacancy of the Chairmanship position in the House Commerce and Gaming Committee which came under Stanford’s leadership in the 2019 Session. Several Representatives are currently pursuing the Chairmanship position which is expected to be announced this fall. 

Additionally, Chairs of legislative committees are working on various ideas that emerged from legislation in the 2019 Session, including outreach to constituents and stakeholders to seek input. The legislature will come together for committee days in September and many of these topics will be discussed. 

Another element that is currently impacting the legislative environment is whether Governor Inslee will continue his bid for the President or seek another term as Governor. Several potential gubernatorial candidates are gearing up to run for governor and several legislators are beginning to position themselves for statewide office campaigns should he decide not to run again. 

As a reminder, committee days are scheduled for September 9th-13th and Nov 18th -22nd, the primary election is August 6th, the general election is on November 5th, the 2020 legislative session commences on January 13th, and Sine Die is scheduled for March 12th.