House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, is greeted on the floor of the House as she arrives to be sworn in Monday, the first day of the 2020 session of the Washington Legislature, at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, is greeted on the floor of the House as she arrives to be sworn in Monday, the first day of the 2020 session of the Washington Legislature, at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

History made: Washington gets its first woman House speaker

Rep. Laurie Jinkins will be dealing with car tabs, Matt Shea and a lot more in the 60-day session.

OLYMPIA —A new speaker of the House, a new seat for an embattled lawmaker and a renewed battle on an old issue highlighted Monday’s opening day of the 2020 legislative session.

The spotlight was trained on the House of the Representatives where Democratic Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma was sworn in as speaker, the first woman and the first lesbian to ever occupy the powerful post.

We are all witnessing history today,” said Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, who served as acting speaker ahead of the session. “Another barrier falls as the first woman in Washington state will stand on this spot and hold this gavel as Speaker of the House.”

Jinkins, in her speech, paid tribute to female trailblazers before her, noting this year is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage which made it possible for women to vote and participate in civic life.

“Another barrier is broken today, but it won’t be the last,” she said. “Today represents another step toward inclusion, toward more seats at the table.”

The new speaker proceeded to lay out an agenda for the 60-day session.

At the top is homelessness and housing which she said demand an approach that is “comprehensive, creative and strategic. She urged representatives to work to provide greater access to affordable child care and lower health care costs and called on them to act on climate change though she did not endorse any specific legislation.

She said they’ll be grappling with the “devastating” impacts of Initiative 976, the voter-approved measure reducing the cost of car tabs. It is on hold pending a legal fight. If upheld, it will create a $454 million hole in the state transportation budget.

And, she noted, lawmakers should look to make gains on reducing gun violence, investing in public education and safeguarding data privacy.

There’s only 60 days, she said. “It might not be possible to accomplish everything, I get it.”

Jinkins begins work after months of traveling the state to meet nearly every member of the House from both parties.

“These visits made me really optimistic about what we can accomplish together,” she said. “The title of my role might be speaker, but as I view it, my primary job is to listen. I promise to listen to every one of you, even when we disagree.”

The cost of car tabs is one such subject on which the two parties won’t see eye-to-eye.

Republicans are urging Democrats to abide by the results of the November election and cap the annual renewal fee at $30 as contained in the initiative.

And Monday morning a small crowd of people gathered on the Capitol steps in chilly temperatures for a rally at which the theme was convincing lawmakers — chiefly Democrats — to implement lower car tab costs.

“The people who voted need to be heard,” said Carolyn Strong of Edmonds, one of the event organizers.

Another hot topic will be what to do about Republican Rep. Matt Shea.

A House-commissioned report released last month alleges Shea promoted and engaged in armed anti-government protests in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The report described the activities as domestic terrorism.

House Republican leaders booted him from their caucus based on the findings. On Monday, Shea got a new seat, in the chamber’s back row sitting alongside Rep. Robert Sutherland, R-Granite Falls. Sutherland recently took to Facebook to question caucus leaders’ treatment of Shea.

Jinkins and her Democratic colleagues want to expel Shea. That would require a two-thirds majority, which means getting votes from nine Republicans. There are no signs yet of that happening.

Democratic and Republican leaders prefer Shea resign. Shea said Friday he has been “falsely accused” and he vowed not to resign. He did not answer questions Monday.

On Monday, a dozen of his supporters stood in a light snow fall at the Capitol’s main entry road at 7 a.m., waving signs emblazoned with “We Stand With Matt Shea”.

Participants said it is wrong for legislative leaders to try to expel the six-term lawmaker or get him to resign. They criticized the House report as slanted, said Shea did not receive adequate time to respond to its findings and defended the lawmaker’s right to not speak with its authors.

“We are here for due process,” said Ken Morse of Olympia, a leader of the Informed Citizen Network also known as the Olympia Tea Party. “We want all the lawmakers to know we support Matt Shea.”

A short time later, the president of the Spokane City Council, who Shea allegedly targeted for surveillance, told reporters that lawmakers should hold public hearings on the report and hoped Shea would testify.

“I support the process moving forward. We need to get to the bottom of it. Put him under oath,” Breean Beggs said in a conference call with other Shea critics. “Everybody needs to know and draw their own conclusions.”

And, he said, if it turns out that his actions rise to the level of “crimes against the community” than expulsion would be appropriate, he said.

The 60-day session is slated to end March 12.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos

Talk to us

More in Local News

14 residents and four staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at Regency on Whidbey. (Regency on Whidbey)
Virus outbreak reported at Whidbey long-term care facility

Eighteen people have tested positive for COVID-19 at Regency in Oak Harbor.

Xiaomei, a recovered mother goat, is now in good health after a bad bout of mastitis earlier this year. (Kira Erickson / Whidbey News-Times)
Whidbey woman takes in two goats deemed lost cause

With snacks, cuddles, massages and Chinese medicine, she nurtured the animals back to health.

Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, where a man with the first case of coronavirus in the United States is being treated on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Everett, Wash. Health officials said Tuesday that the man returned to the Seattle area in the middle of last week after traveling to the Wuhan area, where the outbreak began. The man, identified only as a Snohomish County resident is in his 30s, was not considered a threat to medical staff or the public, health officials said. (Olivia Vanni/The Herald via AP)
COVID outbreak at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett

With record-high infection rates, the virus can make its way into any setting, a health official said.

Hospitals put to the test again as virus patients surge

With beds filling, the medical system girds for a worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputies investigating body found off Highway 9 in Cathcart

The death of the 56-year-old man from Olympia is not currently considered suspicious.

Snohomish County deputy charged with child rape

Anthony Zayas, 26, claimed he did not know the girl he met on Tinder was 14, charging papers say.

thing
With a final tally, county closes the book on 2020 election

In spite of the pandemic, more voters cast ballots in Snohomish County than in any prior election.

The Point Wells industrial area next to Woodway, where a developer proposes to build more than 3,000 condos. (BSRE Point Wells)
Point Wells plan should abide stricter rules, critics say

Landslide hazard regulations drew scrutiny at a public meeting this week on BSRE’s longtime proposal.

A major fire broke out on the Everett waterfront Monday morning in an apparently difficult location. (Sue Misao / The Herald) 20181008
Everett boater gets house arrest for fraud in marina fire

He lost his boat in a 2018 fire. But valuables he claimed were destroyed weren’t burned. He sold them on OfferUp.

Most Read