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Morning Wire: Sen. Joe Nguyen, Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland, Rep. Eileen Cody

Big kuddos to our reporter Michael Goldberg. He’ll be heading to the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism for graduate work this fall. He’s been a huge part of the success of the Wire, and we can’t thank him enough. 

So, as he departs us later this summer, we’ll be looking for a politically savvy individual who is interested in public service journalism, our “live journalism” we produce via events, and helping to shape a new model of civic conversations about state policies, politics, and personalities. Let me know if you have someone we might want to talk to!

With help from Michael Goldberg

1. Recapping the 2021 Session: Legislative Democrats

Join the Washington State Wire tomorrow at 10:00 AM as we host a virtual conversation with legislative Democrats to review the 2021 session. From the capital gains tax to the Climate Commitment Act to the Blake decision, the implications of this session will be vast, and long-felt. 

Sen. Manka Dhingra is Deputy Majority Leader of the Washington State Senate. She used her two decades of experience as a prosecutor and behavioral health expert to lead the Legislature’s response to the Blake decision and shore up the Washington’s behavioral health system during the pandemic. Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon chairs the House Environment & Energy Committee. He was the prime sponsor of the low carbon fuel standard that passed this session and has been one of the state’s foremost leaders on environmental and climate policy. So, get signed up to join this live, interactive event here.

2.  Q&A: Sen. Joe Nguyen is running on community-based politics 

Sen. Joe Nguyen announced last week that he is challenging 12-year incumbent Dow Constantine for King County Executive. Constantine hasn’t faced a serious challenge since he was first elected to the post, but Nguyen says he intends to change that by running on a platform centered around community engagement.  He told reporter Michael Goldberg why he believes his form of community-based politics would be a departure from the status quo. 

“Candidly, I’ve heard people talk in various jurisdictions about the need for progressive revenue. I don’t remember seeing them in committees when we were trying to pass legislation for progressive revenue. You can’t do things performatively if you seriously want to help people. If you do think Black lives matter, you need to show up after the protests are over and after the cameras are off. You have to show up and engage with community and figure out what that looks like… That’s at the core of what I think is broken in our political system.”

3. Q&A: Marilyn Strickland how Congress can help localities build more housing near transit

Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) says says there is nothing more contentious in politics than local land use. That is why she is cosponsoring an updated version of H.R.2483, the Build More Housing Near Transit Act, to incentivize the construction of low and middle-income housing in transit-served locations. In an interview with reporter Michael Goldberg, she offered her take on how the politics around affordable housing have changed in recent years as areas like Tacoma have been forced to grapple with changing neighborhoods and displacement.

“I remember my time at Sound Transit when we were talking about Subproject 3 (SP3). We got into this long conversation about transit oriented development and some people on the board said ‘Why are we going into the housing business? Our job is transportation.’ So even among transportation leaders, you’ve seen a shift in attitude about the relationship between transportation and housing.”

4. Q&A: Rep. Eileen Cody, session in review

After the legislative concluded, reporter Sydney Kurle caught up with Rep. Eileen Cody, Chair of the House Health Care & Wellness Committee, to get her take on the health policy themes that emerged this session. Cody says health equity, the COVID-19 response, and public health were some of the top issues in the health care sphere.

Cody described Sen. David Frockt’s Cascade Care bill as one of the biggest health policy bills to move forward this year. The Washington Hospital Association is asking Gov. Inslee to veto part of that bill, which Frockt is “fairly livid” about. As it relates to the budget, she says funding for mental health and substance use disorder were probably the biggest adds, along with public health support and funding for exchange subsidies. “I would say that there wasn’t a lot of glitz to the things that happened in health care this year, but certainly it got a huge infusion of money.”

5. The 2021 legislative session by the numbers

In total, 335 bills passed the Legislature in 2021. Democrats passed 266 (79.4%) and Republicans passed 69 (20.6%). Of the 335 total bills that passed, 24 bills (7.1%) squeaked through on party line votes. Of the 158 Senate bills that passed, 122 (77.3%) were Democratic bills and 36 (22.7%) were Republican bills. Of the 177 House bills that passed, 144 (81.4%) were Democratic bills and 33 (18.6%) were Republican Bills.

According to records maintained by the Office of Program Research, the 335 total will be the lowest number for an odd year, 105 day session since at least 1983 – though those numbers don’t speak to the success of progressives this session. Sens. Marko Liias, Emily Randall, Karen Keiser prime sponsored the most bills that passed in the Senate (7), while Rep. Amy Walen had the most in the House (6). Sen. Judy Warnick (6) and Rep. Ed Orcutt had the bills from the minority Republican caucuses. 

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