This is a historic week, as the first woman to hold the Speaker’s gavel takes the reigns in the House. Big congratulations to Rep. Laurie Jinkins, someone who I think is both up for the task and who meets the moment.
We dig right into the session with this week’s newsletter, compiled by three of us this edition. It’s a growing team here at the Wire, thanks entirely to your support for us through our Re-Wire Policy Conference, our chief revenue source. 2020 will be a year of even bigger growth for us at the Wire, but more on that later.
So, let’s get to your weekly read-in from the Wire.
With help from Michael Goldberg and Madeline Shannon
1. Q&A: Rep. Gael Tarleton on her bid to become Washington’s next Secretary of State
In what will be one of the most prominent statewide contested elections of 2020, Rep. Gael Tarleton has filed to run against incumbent Kim Wyman for Secretary of State. Tarleton previously built relationships as a Commissioner at the Port of Seattle before moving to the House. Today, she’s a prominent figure in the conversation on tax reform as Chair of the House Finance Committee.
Reporter Michael Goldberg caught up with Rep. Tarleton to talk about her candidacy against Wyman, a two-term incumbent, and the election security challenges she hopes to address as Secretary of State. They also talk through some of the politics of the upcoming session and her opinion of ranked choice voting.
2. Sen. Frockt talks public option and what comes next
Sen. David Frockt has grown to be one of the most impactful legislators in Olympia. His humble but confident approach to policy making has drawn praise from a range of folks, including Hilary Franz who recently called him “the ideal legislator.”
I interviewed Frockt on stage at State of Reform this week where he dropped something of a bomb on the health care community. He highlighted the failed re-insurance legislation from previous sessions as having set the stage for bolder action with the public option bill that he sponsored in 2019. “If (the public option) doesn’t work, I think it does set the stage for somewhat bolder action.” In other words, if the “relatively modest” public option isn’t implemented by the market, the market should expect even more significant legislative activism.
3. A few protests to start the session
It wouldn’t be a legislative session without some rallies or protests… So, two groups gathered outside the leg building on Monday to informally kick off the 2020 session. The Protectors of the Salish Sea and King-Pierce County Farm Bureau demonstrated in protest of fracking and in support of local farmers, respectively.
The latter group told Wire Reporter Madeline Shannon they felt “a little beat up” after the 2019 legislative session, and demonstrated against any bills that had the potential to levy more costs on farmers. Protectors of the Salish Sea, led by indigenous members of local tribes, protested in support of more progressive green policies, much like Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Evergreen Economy” during his presidential run.
4. Health & Human Services committee meeting
The Senate Health & Long-Term Care Committee featured a presentation on Medicaid Monday. Manatt Health Strategies Senior Managing Director Patricia Boozang and the state’s Medicaid Director MarryAnne Lindeblad both spoke to how beneficiaries of Medicaid managed care plans fare compared to fee-for-service programs, and the benefits of managed care plans.
About 1.8m Washingtonians are enrolled in Medicaid, down slightly over the last year. According to Boozang, one in five Americans, or 75m, are covered by the program nationwide. This makes Medicaid the biggest insurer in the country.