Washington State Capitol in Olympia
Washington State Capitol in Olympia

Last month, vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State decid­ed to return expand­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic majori­ties to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and the Sen­ate for the 2023–2024 bien­ni­um, ensur­ing that the Ever­green State will con­tin­ue to have a blue tri­fec­ta until at least 2025. With the elec­tion now cer­ti­fied and the only leg­isla­tive con­test recount fin­ished, leg­is­la­tors are hard at work prepar­ing for session.

At the begin­ning of this month, the House and Sen­ate held what are known as com­mit­tee days — meet­ings of com­mit­tees held dur­ing the inter­im for plan­ning and infor­ma­tion gath­er­ing pur­pos­es. The Sen­ate’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can cau­cus­es released their com­mit­tee assign­ments dur­ing that time.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives — which has twice as many mem­bers and more pieces to decide how to fit into place — is now fol­low­ing suit, with the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus final­iz­ing its com­mit­tee names and assign­ments yesterday.

Sev­er­al com­mit­tees have been giv­en new names and scopes, and sev­er­al have new chairs. The mem­ber­ship of most com­mit­tees has also changed in the wake of retire­ments and the elec­tion of new mem­bers to the House.

Com­mit­tees with sig­nif­i­cant­ly dif­fer­ent names or scopes are:

  • Pub­lic Safe­ty is now Com­mu­ni­ty Safe­ty, Jus­tice, & Reen­try. Roger Good­man (D‑45th Dis­trict: Kirk­land & East King Coun­ty) remains its Chair.
  • Hous­ing, Human Ser­vices & Vet­er­ans is now just Hous­ing. Strom Peter­son (D‑21st Dis­trict: Muk­il­teo and Sno­homish Coun­ty, who is also now a Sno­homish Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber) remains its Chair.
  • Chil­dren, Youth & Fam­i­lies is now Human Ser­vices, Youth, & Ear­ly Learn­ing. This com­mit­tee will take over the human ser­vices port­fo­lio that the Hous­ing Com­mit­tee used to have. Tana Senn (D‑41st Dis­trict: Mer­cer Island, Belle­vue, East King Coun­ty) will remain its Chair.
  • Com­mu­ni­ty & Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment is now Inno­va­tion, Com­mu­ni­ty & Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment, & Vet­er­ans. That’s such a long name that the com­mit­tee will prob­a­bly end up get­ting referred to with an acronym, per­haps ICEDV. Cindy Ryu (D‑32nd Dis­trict: North King Coun­ty and South Sno­homish Coun­ty) remains its Chair.
  • Col­lege & Work­force Devel­op­ment is now Post­sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion & Work­force. Van­dana Slat­ter (D‑48th Dis­trict: Belle­vue and East King Coun­ty) remains its Chair.
  • Com­merce & Gam­ing is now Reg­u­lat­ed Sub­stances & Gam­ing. Shel­ley Klo­ba (D‑1st Dis­trict: Both­ell and North­east King Coun­ty / South­east Sno­homish Coun­ty) remains its Chair.
  • Rur­al Devel­op­ment, Agri­cul­ture & Nat­ur­al Resources has a sim­pler name: Agri­cul­ture & Nat­ur­al Resources. Mike Chap­man (D‑24th Dis­trict: Olympic Penin­su­la) remains its Chair.

New chairs include:

  • April Berg (D‑44th Dis­trict: Sno­homish Coun­ty) is the new Chair of Finance, tak­ing over from Noel Frame, who moved to the Senate.
  • Bill Ramos (D‑5th Dis­trict: Issaquah and East King Coun­ty) is the new Chair of State Gov­ern­ment & Trib­al Rela­tions, tak­ing over for Javier Valdez, who moved to the Sen­ate and will be vice chair of its equiv­a­lent committee.
  • Liz Berry (D‑36th Dis­trict: Seat­tle), is the new Chair of Labor & Work­place Stan­dards, tak­ing over from Mike Sells, who retired.
  • Mar­cus Ric­cel­li (D‑3rd Dis­trict: Spokane), is the new Chair of Health Care & Well­ness, tak­ing over from Eileen Cody, who retired.
  • Amy Walen (D‑48th Dis­trict: Belle­vue and East King Coun­ty) is the new Chair of Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion & Busi­ness, tak­ing over from Steve Kir­by, who retired.
  • Beth Doglio (D‑22nd Dis­trict: Olympia) is the new Chair of Envi­ron­ment & Ener­gy, tak­ing over from Joe Fitzgib­bon, who is now Major­i­ty Leader.
  • Davina Duerr (D‑1st Dis­trict: Both­ell and North­east King Coun­ty / South­east Sno­homish Coun­ty) is the new Chair of Local Gov­ern­ment, suc­ceed­ing Ger­ry Pol­let, who has joined the pow­er­ful House Rules Committee.

Two of the new chairs issued state­ments fol­low­ing their selection.

“I am hon­ored and excit­ed with this oppor­tu­ni­ty to work on poli­cies that strength­en our democ­ra­cy, rein­force our rela­tion­ships with First Nations, and increase account­abil­i­ty and trans­paren­cy in our elec­tions,” said Bill Ramos in a state­ment after being named Chair of State Gov­ern­ment & Trib­al Relations.

“In our cur­rent polit­i­cal land­scape, ensur­ing that gov­ern­ment at all lev­els reflects the diver­si­ty of our state is a pri­or­i­ty,” Ramos added. His state­ment also not­ed that four Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers in his com­mit­tee are peo­ple of color.

“Our state’s great­est strengths are our diverse work­force and inno­v­a­tive busi­ness­es,” said Liz Berry in a state­ment after being named Chair of Labor & Work­place Stan­dards. “I’m deeply hon­ored to take on this new posi­tion and remain com­mit­ted to giv­ing all Wash­ing­to­ni­ans a seat at the table as we address the most urgent work­place chal­lenges they face.”

Now, here are the com­mit­tee assign­ments for each new member:

  • Clyde Shavers, D‑10th Dis­trict: Island Coun­ty, por­tions of Skag­it Coun­ty, Sno­homish County 
    • Cap­i­tal Budget
    • Edu­ca­tion (Vice Chair)
    • Inno­va­tion, Com­mu­ni­ty & Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment, & Veterans
  • Sharlett Mena, D‑29th Dis­trict: Pierce County 
    • Envi­ron­ment & Energy
    • Trans­porta­tion
    • State Gov­ern­ment & Trib­al Relations
  • Emi­ly Alvara­do, D‑34th Dis­trict: Seat­tle and Vashon Island 
    • Cap­i­tal Budget
    • Hous­ing (Vice Chair)
    • Local Gov­ern­ment (Vice Chair)
  • Julia Reed, D‑36th Dis­trict: Seattle 
    • Cap­i­tal Budget
    • Hous­ing
    • Post­sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion & Workforce
  • Chipa­lo Street, D‑37th Dis­trict: Seattle 
    • Envi­ron­ment & Energy
    • Finance (Vice Chair)
    • Inno­va­tion, Com­mu­ni­ty & Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment, & Veterans
  • Julio Cortes, D‑38th Dis­trict: Sno­homish County 
    • Inno­va­tion, Com­mu­ni­ty & Eco­nom­ic Devel­op­ment, & Veterans
    • Trans­porta­tion
    • Human Ser­vices, Youth, & Ear­ly Learn­ing (Vice Chair)
  • Mary Fos­se, D‑38th Dis­trict: Sno­homish County 
    • Labor & Work­place Stan­dards (Vice Chair)
    • Cap­i­tal Budget
    • Com­mu­ni­ty Safe­ty, Jus­tice, & Reentry
  • Joe Tim­mons, D‑42nd Dis­trict: What­com County 
    • Edu­ca­tion
    • Post­sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion & Workforce
    • Trans­porta­tion (Vice Chair)
  • Darya Fari­var, D‑46th Dis­trict: Seattle 
    • Cap­i­tal Budget
    • Civ­il Rights & Judi­cia­ry (Vice Chair)
    • Com­mu­ni­ty Safe­ty, Jus­tice, & Reentry
  • Chris Stearns, D‑47th Dis­trict: Auburn and South King County 
    • Cap­i­tal Budget
    • Reg­u­lat­ed Sub­stances & Gaming
    • State Gov­ern­ment & Trib­al Rela­tions (Vice Chair)

And for return­ing mem­bers Beth Doglio and Kris­tine Reeves, who left the Leg­is­la­ture to run for Con­gress in 2020 and did not serve in 2021–2022:

  • Beth Doglio, D‑22nd Dis­trict: Olympia 
    • Ener­gy & Envi­ron­ment (Chair)
    • Labor & Work­place Standards
    • Trans­porta­tion
  • Kris­tine Reeves, D‑30th Dis­trict: Fed­er­al Way and South King County 
    • Agri­cul­ture & Nat­ur­al Resources (Vice Chair)
    • Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion & Busi­ness (Vice Chair)
    • Reg­u­lat­ed Sub­stances & Gaming

You might have noticed that every sin­gle new mem­ber is a com­mit­tee vice chair. That’s by design. House Demo­c­ra­t­ic lead­er­ship likes to give first ter­m­ers the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work with a com­mit­tee chair to move leg­is­la­tion through the process. Vice chairs are typ­i­cal­ly called upon to help run hear­ings and to make motions to adopt amend­ments and move bills in com­mit­tee exec­u­tive session.

It’s also not a coin­ci­dence that almost every first ter­mer got assigned to Cap­i­tal Bud­get. That’s the com­mit­tee that works on what is some­times also infor­mal­ly known as the con­struc­tion or pub­lic works bud­get. (In the House, the oper­at­ing bud­get is the purview of Appro­pri­a­tions and the trans­porta­tion bud­get is han­dled by Trans­porta­tion; rev­enue is worked on by Finance.)

The 2023–2024 House Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty will have fifty-eight mem­bers, up from fifty-sev­en. The House Repub­li­can minor­i­ty will con­sist of forty members.

The House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus’ com­plete com­mit­tee assign­ments are avail­able in the PDF embed­ded below. Our team has not yet reviewed the House Repub­li­can cau­cus’ com­mit­tee assign­ments yet, but expects to shortly.

Wash­ing­ton State House Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cau­cus Com­mit­tee Assign­ments by Com­mit­tee (2023–2024)

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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