Drew Hansen in action
Drew Hansen convenes the House Higher Education Committee on January 16th, 2016 (Photo: Legislative Support Services)

Wash­ing­ton State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Drew Hansen will soon be on the oth­er side of the rotun­da in Olympia, hav­ing been cho­sen today to take the place of for­mer Sen­a­tor Chris­tine Rolfes, who is now a Kit­sap Coun­ty Commissioner.

The three-mem­ber com­mis­sion — which now includes Rolfes — exer­cised its con­sti­tu­tion­al author­i­ty to fill the vacan­cy cre­at­ed by her res­ig­na­tion by choos­ing Hansen from a list of three nom­i­nees pre­sent­ed by the Kit­sap Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee. The par­ty’s two oth­er nom­i­nees were Brynn Felix, who serves as the gen­er­al coun­sel and med­ical-legal part­ner­ship direc­tor at Penin­su­la Com­mu­ni­ty Health Ser­vices, and Chris Can­cialosi, a retired ser­vice­mem­ber who cre­at­ed gotham­Cul­ture and Gotham Gov­ern­ment Ser­vices management.

Hansen was not imme­di­ate­ly sworn in, but with the Leg­is­la­ture not expect­ed to recon­vene for its next ses­sion until Jan­u­ary, that did­n’t need to hap­pen today. Hansen will be able to plan a nice cer­e­mo­ny if he wishes.

“I’m grate­ful to be able to con­tin­ue serv­ing our com­mu­ni­ty in the Sen­ate,” Hansen said in a state­ment sent by the Wash­ing­ton Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus. “It’s been an extra­or­di­nary hon­or to serve in the House for the past decade and open up oppor­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple in Kit­sap Coun­ty to get trained for good jobs that sup­port their fam­i­lies. The part­ner­ships we have built with Olympic Col­lege, West­ern Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty, our appren­tice­ships and more have trans­formed peo­ples’ lives, and I look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to work on these issues in the Senate.”

Rolfes and fel­low Com­mi­sion­ers Char­lotte Gar­ri­do and Katie Wal­ters held inter­views with the three nom­i­nees last week and this week pri­or to mak­ing their deci­sion. They were wide­ly expect­ed to pick Hansen, who has years of leg­isla­tive expe­ri­ence, as men­tioned. Hansen’s seat­mate Tar­ra Sim­mons also pon­dered seek­ing the Sen­ate appoint­ment, but ulti­mate­ly decid­ed to remain in the House.

“Hansen has chaired the House Civ­il Rights & Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee since 2020; before that, he chaired the House High­er Edu­ca­tion Com­mit­tee from 2014 to 2020,” the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus not­ed. “Hansen has led efforts on his­toric leg­is­la­tion in recent years, includ­ing this year’s Shield Law (HB 1469) to pro­tect those who pur­sue or pro­vide legal repro­duc­tive care in the state.”

“Hansen also spon­sored Washington’s land­mark free col­lege tuition law and the nation’s first state-lev­el net neu­tral­i­ty law. He also led efforts on the New Hope Act, a bipar­ti­san crim­i­nal jus­tice reform bill that helps peo­ple who have spent time in prison rebuild their lives, the DREAM Act 2.0 to pro­tect state finan­cial aid eli­gi­bil­i­ty for DACA stu­dents, and the Pub­lic Broad­band Act, which opens up oppor­tu­ni­ties for pub­lic broad­band net­works in Wash­ing­ton State.”

Hansen must leave the House to serve in the Sen­ate, which will cre­ate open­ings there. A spe­cial nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus of Demo­c­ra­t­ic PCOs from the 23rd Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict con­vened by the Kit­sap Coun­ty Democ­rats will need to meet again soon to draw up a list of three nom­i­nees to suc­ceed Hansen through 2024.

Then, the Kit­sap Coun­ty Com­mis­sion will appoint one of them to be a new State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the 23rd Dis­trict, which is locat­ed entire­ly with­in the coun­ty, encom­pass­ing Bain­bridge Island, Bre­mer­ton, Pouls­bo, and the trib­al reser­va­tions of the Suquamish and the Port Gam­ble S’Klallam. (See map.)

In addi­tion, the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus will need to pick a new Judi­cia­ry Chair for the upcom­ing short ses­sion. That’s a pow­er­ful and impor­tant com­mit­tee that hears bills per­tain­ing to top­ics like gun safe­ty and crim­i­nal jus­tice reform.

In the Sen­ate, Chris­tine Rolfes’ depar­ture will also prompt some reshuf­fling. Rolfes was the Chair of Ways & Means, the Sen­ate’s most pow­er­ful and influ­en­tial com­mit­tee, so the Sen­ate’s Com­mit­tee on Com­mit­tees will have to pick a new Chair. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty con­trols that com­mit­tee and may select Sen­a­tor June Robin­son to take Rolfes’ place. Robin­son is one of the two cur­rent Vice Chairs of Ways & Means; the oth­er is Mark Mul­let, a guber­na­to­r­i­al hopeful.

Aside from chair­ing Ways & Means, Rolfes was also a mem­ber of Agri­cul­ture, Water, Nat­ur­al Resources & Parks, chaired by Kevin Van De Wege (D‑24th Dis­trict: Olympic Penin­su­la), who is run­ning for Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands.

Hansen’s Judi­cia­ry expe­ri­ence would seem­ing­ly make him a good can­di­date for the Sen­ate’s Law & Jus­tice Com­mit­tee, chaired by Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra, who is run­ning for Attor­ney Gen­er­al. Hansen him­self was briefly a can­di­date for Attor­ney Gen­er­al four years ago until Gov­er­nor Inslee deicd­ed to seek a third term.

Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Andy Bil­lig says he’s hap­py to have Hansen on board.

“I am pleased with this appoint­ment,” said Bil­lig. “Sen­a­tor Hansen is an expe­ri­enced leader and has been a plea­sure to work with over the years on a vari­ety of issues. He is some­one who will be able to step right in and get to work in the Sen­ate on behalf of the peo­ple of the 23rd Leg­isla­tive District.”

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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