It’s ‘Madam Speaker’ now: What’s happening in Olympia today

Day 2 of 60 of the Washington Legislature in Olympia includes the State of the State address.

2020 Washington Legislature, Day 2 of 60

Everett Herald political reporter Jerry Cornfield: | @dospueblos

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OLYMPIA, Jan. 14, 2020 — Laurie Jinkins secured her place in state history books Monday when the Tacoma Democrat was sworn in as speaker of the House of Representatives. She is the first woman and the first lesbian to hold this powerful position.

Here’s what she said about breaking this barrier and what she’d like to focus on this session. Or watch the entire opening day ceremony here.

There was laughter later when House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan inadvertently addressed the new leader as “Mr. Speaker.” Watch her response.

Monday we learned where embattled Republican Rep. Matt Shea will sit this session. The back row, in the middle. On his left is a Republican and across the narrow aisle is a Democrat. Back row isn’t a punishment. Rep. Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, who spent the past two decades as the speaker, is on the back row, too.

Is there a deal on consumer data privacy and facial recognition technology? This sure was a political stinker in 2019, when the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill and the House killed it. Democrats in the two chambers had lots of disagreements then.

On Monday, Senate Democrats issued a press release asserting a “tentative agreement,” though it wasn’t exactly clear with whom. Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the driving force on this matter in the Senate, told reporters there’s “95% agreement on the core elements” of two bills with the chair of the House committee that handles this kind of stuff. But there’s no mention of the committee chairman, Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, in the news release, which makes me wonder how firm the tentative agreement is. This will be fun to watch.

What we’re writing and reading

A new speaker, a new seating chart and a new fight on an old issue. My recap of the session’s first day.

Nancy Drew quotes, ginger snaps and more. A guide to Speaker Jinkins by David Gutman of The Seattle Times.

Fewer split districts is polarizing politics and changing the climate in the Capitol, reports Melissa Santos of Crosscut.

ICYMI: Assisting ICE cost this Washington city $85,000.

What’s happening

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee will deliver his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature at noon. Housing the homeless, fighting climate change and expanding access to early learning will all certainly get mentions. That failed presidential run of his, probably not. Here’s what he said in 2019.

Lawmakers won’t have much time to hang around after the speech. There are 26 committees meeting Tuesday. Here’s the full lineup.

Some interesting hearings await them. Public workers want a new law exempting their ages and addresses — the kind of stuff one finds in a voter database — from public disclosure. Also on tap in the 1:30 p.m. meeting of the House state government committee is a bill to bar posting online the financial affair statements of professional staff of the Legislature.

At 2 p.m., inmate deaths in state prisons will be a subject of a work session and a bill in the Senate Human Services, Reentry and Rehabilitation Committee. A recent report from the corrections ombudsperson determined a Monroe inmate died because his cancer was ignored until too late. Caleb Hutton of the Everett Herald wrote about it here.

Legislative agendas, schedules and calendars


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Beat reporters: Jerry Cornfield (Herald) | Rachel La Corte (AP) | Joseph O’Sullivan (Times) | Jim Brunner (Times) | Melissa Santos (Crosscut) | Jim Camden (Spokesman-Review) | Austin Jenkins (NW News Network) | James Drew (News Tribune)

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