State Relations

January 16, 2020

News from Olympia: Rep. Laurie Jinkins sworn in as Speaker of the House

Washington State’s 2020 legislative session started on Monday, Jan. 13 and took off running. This 60-day (short) session is scheduled to last until March 12 and is focused on the supplemental budget, which applies fixes to the biennial budget passed last legislative session. Some of the big legislative topics will include transportation, homelessness, behavioral health, and data privacy.

A “Democratic Trifecta” holds in Olympia, with Democrats controlling the House of Representatives, Senate, and Governor’s Mansion. However, some key leadership and committee chair positions have changed. Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D–Legislative District 27) was sworn in on Monday as the new Speaker of the House. She is the first woman and first out lesbian to hold the position. Sen. Andy Billig (D–LD 3), Sen. Mark Schoesler (R–LD 9), and Rep. J.T. Wilcox (R–LD 2) remain in their caucus leadership roles. In the Senate, Sen. Emily Randall (D–LD 26) now serves as Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee Chair, with Rep. Drew Hansen (D–LD 23) continuing in his role as the House College & Workforce Development Committee Chair.

Yesterday, President Ana Mari Cauce traveled to Olympia to meet with legislators to discuss the UW’s 2020 legislative priorities. She also participated in a meeting with Gov. Jay Inslee with the presidents of Washington’s other public four-year higher education institutions. During this meeting, they thanked the Governor for the historic investments made in higher education last session and discussed common goals moving forward.

Earlier in the week, Morgan Hickel, Associate Director of State Relations, testified before the House and Senate fiscal committees on the Governor’s proposed operating budget. She encouraged legislators to invest in the Hans Rosling Center for Population Health, which is scheduled to open later this year and will be an innovative convening space to advance population health locally and globally.

Throughout session, the Office of State Relations will work with campus partners to advance the UW’s legislative agenda.

Stay tuned for updates from the state relations team. Updates can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.