Laurie Jinkins with Frank Chopp
Laurie Jinkins shares a laugh with Frank Chopp after being introduced as the Speaker-designate (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institu

This after­noon, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus of the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives announced that its mem­bers have cho­sen State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Lau­rie Jink­ins of Taco­ma to be the next Speak­er of the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, suc­ceed­ing Frank Chopp (D‑43rd Dis­trict: Seattle).

Laurie Jinkins with Frank Chopp
Lau­rie Jink­ins shares a laugh with Frank Chopp after being intro­duced as the Speak­er-des­ig­nate (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Pro­gres­sive Institute)

Jink­ins will for­mal­ly assume office in Jan­u­ary when the Leg­is­la­ture recon­venes for its short ses­sion and she is elect­ed Speak­er by the House­’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty. Until then, she will be the Speak­er-des­ig­nate.

“I first ran for pub­lic office because I want­ed to make sure all fam­i­lies have the same oppor­tu­ni­ties for suc­cess,” said Jink­ins in a statement.

“Wash­ing­ton con­tin­ues to rank among the top states to live, work, and do busi­ness in large part due to the for­ward-think­ing poli­cies adopt­ed by the Leg­is­la­ture over the last twen­ty years. We made sure all kids have access to health care regard­less of fam­i­ly income. We have some of the best col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in the nation. And we sup­port fam­i­lies by embrac­ing mar­riage equal­i­ty, paid fam­i­ly leave, equal pay, and many oth­er polices.”

“I want every fam­i­ly to have the same oppor­tu­ni­ties my fam­i­ly has had, and that vision will be the guid­ing force dur­ing my ser­vice as Speaker.”

“I thank my col­leagues for their con­fi­dence. This will be the most chal­leng­ing job I’ll ever have but I am hum­bled and buoyed by the sup­port of mem­bers of this cau­cus. For twen­ty years, we’ve worked togeth­er to improve qual­i­ty of life on behalf of the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton and House Democ­rats are com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing that work for com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies all across the state.”

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to Speak­er-elect Jink­ins on her well-deserved and his­toric elec­tion to serve as the new House speak­er,” said Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee.

“I’ve appre­ci­at­ed Laurie’s ongo­ing part­ner­ship in behav­ioral health and health care, her pas­sion­ate work on behalf of hard-work­ing fam­i­lies and chil­dren, and her com­mit­ment to advanc­ing civ­il rights for all Washingtonians.

“Lau­rie will be instru­men­tal in shap­ing the next chap­ters of Washington’s his­to­ry. I look for­ward to work­ing with her as we con­tin­ue to grow our econ­o­my and help every Wash­ing­ton­ian be part of our success.”

“As an accom­plished leg­is­la­tor and the first woman to hold the posi­tion, she will bring a vital per­spec­tive to lead­er­ship in the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture,” said Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Andy Bil­lig, Jink­ins’ coun­ter­part across the rotunda.

“I’ve enjoyed a pro­duc­tive work­ing rela­tion­ship with Lau­rie since we joined the House togeth­er in 2011. She has a long record of fight­ing for leg­is­la­tion that puts our state on the path of pros­per­i­ty by cre­at­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for everybody.

“I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work with the House lead­er­ship team to put peo­ple first and make Wash­ing­ton the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

All fifty-sev­en mem­bers of the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus par­tic­i­pat­ed in the vot­ing for the new Speak­er at a meet­ing in SeaT­ac. Under the cau­cus rules, the win­ning can­di­date had to have the sup­port of an absolute major­i­ty of the cau­cus — twen­ty-nine votes. A total of four women can­di­dates sought the posi­tion: State Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Gael Tar­leton of Seat­tle (an NPI board­mem­ber), Mon­i­ca Jura­do Stonier of Van­cou­ver, June Robin­son of Sno­homish Coun­ty, and Jinkins.

Jink­ins has rep­re­sent­ed the 27th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict (in Pierce Coun­ty) for many years. Pri­or to win­ning this elec­tion, she chaired the Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee in the House, and was piv­otal in advanc­ing leg­is­la­tion to final­ly abol­ish the death penal­ty — a cause that our team has col­lab­o­rat­ed with her on.

A year ago, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jink­ins spoke at our press con­fer­ence with Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son to unveil our find­ing that 69% of Wash­ing­to­ni­ans sup­port life in prison alter­na­tives to the death penal­ty. Her com­ments were fea­tured as part of the evening report that KIRO7 aired on the press conference.

Two years ago, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jink­ins joined our team in Atlanta to par­tic­i­pate in a pan­el that I orga­nized to dis­cuss state leg­is­la­tures and leg­isla­tive con­tests. State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Renit­ta Shan­non and State Sen­a­tor Nan Orrock, both of Geor­gia, joined us for that dis­cus­sion, which was a high­light of Net­roots Nation 2017.

Lau­rie is a com­mit­ted cham­pi­on for count­less pro­gres­sive caus­es who brings a strong work eth­ic to the table. She is well spo­ken, and well orga­nized. Our team is con­fi­dent she will be a strong and capa­ble Speak­er for Wash­ing­ton State.

We extend our con­grat­u­la­tions to Lau­rie and her fam­i­ly. We look for­ward to work­ing togeth­er as the 2020 leg­isla­tive ses­sion approaches.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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