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January 2020 Legislative Update

Happy New Year!

Washington lawmakers are heading back to Olympia today for the start of the 2020 Washington State Legislative Session. This is a short session, meaning that the Legislature will only be in session for 60 days, instead of the 105-days provided during the long-session when they have to pass the Operating Budget. Short sessions are usually focused on policy work and supplemental budget requests, in addition every bill that was introduced during the 2019 Session that did not pass will become alive again in its chamber of origin.

Democrats will have control of both chambers; in the Senate they have a 5 seat majority (27-22) and they hold a 16 seat majority in the House (57-41). The House of Representatives has been led by Democratic Speak Frank Chopp (43 rd – Seattle) since 1999, but this year we will see how a the first female Speaker manages the her new role! Speaker-elect Laurie Jinkins (27 th – Tacoma) will be sworn on the first day of session. Every change in leadership comes with a large number of institutional and leadership changes, making 2020 a unique year to be sure.

In 2019 a third of the Legislature was comprised of the in-coming freshman class. A lot of time was taken last year to educate this largely new legislative body. Even though it was not an election year, the 2020 Legislature still has had several seats in flux:

Senator Guy Palumbo (D - 1 st ) announced his departure from the Legislature earlier this year in May to return to work for Amazon. Representative Derek Stanford (D – 1 st ) was appointed to replace Palumbo in the Senate. While, Bothell City Council’s Deputy Mayor Davina Duerr was appointed in July to fill the Stanford’s open seat in the House.

Senator Barbara Bailey (R – 10 th ) announced her retirement in late August, stating in her resignation letter that she wanted to spend more time with her family. Officials from three counties and two political parties unanimously picked Whidbey Island farm owner Ron Muzzall to serve in Bailey seat.

Representatives, Jeff Morris (D – 40 th ) and Kristine Reeves (D – 30 th ), resigned from their seats over the holiday break. Morris’ replacement was appointed on this week; Alex Ramel, a climate change activist, was elected by officials from Skagit, Whatcom and San Juan counties. While Reeves announced Monday January 6, that she will be running for the open seat in the 10 th Congressional District after Congressman Denny Heck (D) also announced his retirement. Several Democrats and Republicans will be eyeing this seat in 2020

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