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Morning Wire: Sessions, speakers, Re-Wire

Two things should give you hope and make you proud this week.

One, Thursday we are expected to have emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID vaccine. It took only 5 days from genome sequencing the virus to design of the vaccine that will be authorized this week. We are watching an amazing leap forward in vaccine science.

Two, despite so much political division, we have 37 legislators and 2 members of Congress joining us at Re-Wire this week. Not only does this convening have some amazing thought leaders with us, it’s a bi-partisan demonstration of policy leaders ready to get to work on solutions ahead of the next legislative session. 

There is a lot we can be thankful for, even in the dark of a Northwest winter.

With help from Michael Goldberg

1. Lessons in policy making from the Great Recession

The last recession left a deep scar on policy makers who were there at the time. The cuts that were enacted in the budget cycles between 2009-2013 took years to recover from. At the 2020 Re-Wire Conference, we have two wizened veterans from those budgets who will reflect on the challenges of that year.

Sen. Karen Keiser and Marty Brown, the Director of the Office of Financial Management under Gov. Gregoire, will reflect on lessons learned from the Great Recession and how those lessons can inform fiscal policy in the next session. 

2. Geography, politics and cultural divides in the Northwest

There is an old saying that “culture eats strategy for lunch.” The meaning is that no matter how much you think your messaging and election strategy works, local culture will have a far greater impact on the overall electorate than many campaign consultants care to admit.

This panel will discuss the shifts in cultural alignment across Washington State’s geography, and what the implications are for politics in our state. Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (Member, US House Committee on Appropriations), Rep. Sharon Shewmake (Vice Chair, House Rural Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee), Sen. Ron Muzzall (Assistant Ranking Member, State Government, Tribal Relations & Elections Committee), and Rep. Vicki Kraft (Ranking Member, House Local Government Committee) will discuss these competing forces and their impact on Washington State politics.

3. Race, racism and the policy response

One of the storylines out of a difficult 2020 has been the amount of work we still have to do to become an anti-racist society. This topic, particularly as it relates to policy reform, will be a central area of focus in the 2021 legislative session. So, what might the policy response to the racism elevated this year look like? 
We’ve got a stand-out group of folks set up to take on the question with you. Rep. Jesse Johnson (Vice Chair, House Consumer Protection and Business Committee), Sen. Jamie Pedersen (Chair, Senate Law & Justice Committee), Seferiana Day (Partner, Upper Left Strategies), Monisha Harrell (Chair, Equal Rights Washington) and Sandy Williams (Executive Director, Carl Maxey Center) will talk through how race and racism play out in Washington State and how policy making can be informed by this experience. 

4. The pandemics impact on the politics of climate change

While COVID kept us at home this summer, wildfires burned across the northwest. As the economy changes as a result of the pandemic, is that also changing the politics of climate change? A bipartisan group of legislators will discuss how exactly the politics of climate have shifted during this year of tumult.

JoinRep. Joe Fitzgibbon (Chair, House Environment and Energy Committee), Rep. Matt Boehnke (Member, House Environment and Energy Committee), Rep. Keith Goehner (Member, House Environment and Energy Committee), and Jeff Randall (Commissioner, Jefferson County PUD) for a discussion on the impacts from the pandemic and how it may have changed the nature of climate science politics. 

5. Re-thinking the transportation budget

With road miles down considerably and public transit facing steeply reduced ridership, demand in the transportation system is shifting. So, the conversation about transportation policy — particularly around funding — is changing as well. 

Sen. Steve Hobbs (Chair, Senate Transportation Committee), Rep. Andrew Barkis (Ranking Member, House Transportation Committee) and Reema Griffith (Executive Director, Washington State Transportation Committee) will explore the way policy makers are re-considering the direction of transportation policy in Washington and will discuss some innovations on the table.

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