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2021 legislative session awards

By May 19, 2021July 2nd, 2021Blog



The WCA 2021 Legislative Session Awards are HERE! This legislative session was incredible, with some of the biggest progressive wins EVER in Washington State history. We saw the power of leaders of color in elected office, working alongside community to make change.

We’re so proud to have worked with these phenomenal leaders:

🏅 Most Valuable Player: Rep. Kirsten Harris-Talley sponsored all of our priority bills. A leader among the historic class of first-year legislators, she helped push racial justice as top caucus priority, which bore out in policy victories. She remained true to her campaign promise that the policies she champions centers our communities.

🤝 Defensive Player of the Year: Sen. Rebecca Saldaña played a crucial role behind the scenes keeping both HEAL Act and cash assistance benefits for undocumented workers left out of federal stimmy’s and other relief programs like unemployment insurance. In that crucial moment when things had to be paid for, Sen. Saldaña kept the ball in front of her, maneuvering some tricky politics to beat back the attacks and get the win.

🔥 Offensive Player of the Year: Sen. Joe Nguyen scored some big wins this session—including a capital gains tax, which he campaigned on. He remains a vocal champion willing to throw out the old playbook if it isn’t working. He’s shown up for every fight eager to rethink failed systems and implement solutions that actually work for people. And not for nothin, he’s taking the fight up to the King County Executive’s office as he announced his candidacy last week.

💪 Rookie of the Year: Sen. T’wina Nobles—the only Black member of the State Senate—had an impressive showing this session. Among other victories, she secured unanimous support in her first week on a bill that made common-sense technical fixes for working class kids. For example: automatically awarding state College Bound scholarships to qualifying students rather than making young people jump through hoops to get to higher education.

💖 Teammate of the Year: Rep. My-Linh Thai is the rare politician who doesn’t think of herself as a politician. Perhaps that’s why people burst into tears when she speaks. We like to think of her as the conscience of the house caucus.

🎯 Coach of the Year: Rep. Noel Frame used her role as chair of the House Finance Committee to aggressively pursue several progressive revenue bills. We saw more action from this one committee than we’ve seen from the whole legislature in almost a century, and it’s because of that focus and commitment that we have a capital gains tax and a working families tax credit in the books, with a billionaire tax ready to come off the bench next season.

👀 Most Improved Player: Sen. Jamie Pedersen has defended some truly awful things in his career, but after seeing his district representative, former Speaker Frank Chopp, weather his first serious competition in decades, Sen. Pederson became a vocal advocate for capital gains and even some of our other priorities. Come through political pressure from the base and subsequently good political calculus!

✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽 Team of the Year: The Black Members Caucus had a lot of attention on them in the wake of the largest civil rights protests in American history last year, and they delivered. Led by Chair Rep. Jamila Taylor, the caucus spearheaded a historic suite of police accountability bills, consulting communities first, rather than going to cops as had been the case in the past. All members also supported the capital gains, the Washington immigrant relief fund, and our other priorities.

🎯 Highest VORP:* Sen. Emily Randall hands down delivered the most value above what we’d expect from the typical legislator in her seat. Randall—who won her first by just 3.2%—shares a district with two Republicans, and despite facing tough re-election prospects next year, she never wavered on her votes to tax the rich and support communities that the far-right loves to vilify. Honorable mentions: Rep David Hackney, the Black progressive who ousted incumbent landlord-lobby-lover Zack Hudgins, and Sen. Nobles who replaced Republican Steve O’Ban and was the 25th vote on capital gains even as her Democratic seat mate in the House, Rep/ Mari Leavitt, voted against (proving the 28th could do better for any politically ambitious progressives in University Place who’d be interested in running next year 😉).

*Value Over Replacement Player for all the non-sports-analytics-nerds out there.

What do you think? Have any questions? Tweet us your thoughts @wacommalliance. Keep up with the action and opportunities to get involved with our legislative newsletter The Tally.