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So many butts, so little seats!

By June 7, 2022Blog

Friends — May’s filing week came and went, but you know what that means: We now have a view of the whole board—AKA musical Chairs. Before we dive into that, some updates for you!

🚨 Police Decertification

Washington’s Criminal Justice Training Commission has been grinding! That is to say, they’re putting together language and implementation for the SB 5051 decertification bill that passed. “Lol what,” you say? Okay, okay, it’s the soon-to-be process by which officers can be fired and removed from service anywhere in Washington state. The deadline for final approval on the fireable offense criteria is June 28th. Should the Commission receive a complaint on an officer, the Commission would conduct an investigation, hold a hearing, and use that criteria to decide. Our undying gratitude to the people making sure this happens where it’s due, like Walter Kendricks & Kurt Robinson—two WCA organization leaders!

We’re happy to confirm that—for the first time ever—more members of this powerful committee will be community members rather than police officers. In determining if an officer should be fired, commissioners will be able to look over the entirety of that officer’s career—including all complaints filed against them, investigations initiated, and records from all sectors (public defense, oversight, the department, etc.).

If you ever want to check up on their progress, all meetings are public and recorded!

🙅‍♀️ Our Take-Aways from 2022 Legislating

🎶🪑 Musical Chairs

When it comes to predicting votes in the legislature, people often overlook the committee chairs. But they decide on whether or not a bill will survive before making its way to the full chamber (click here if you need a refresher on what those words mean). Chairs ultimately decide a committee’s whole agenda. They can simply refuse to schedule a bill’s appearance at all even if it’s assigned to their committee. Normally, these roles stay static for multiple sessions. But it’s an election year, and an unusually high number of legislators are retiring. Because newly elected legislators don’t inherit their predecessors’ chairmanship, we’re about to see quite a bit of reorganizing.

Open Chairs: The following people are stepping away

  • House Consumer Protection & Business Chair, Steve Kirby (D-29)
  • House Health Care & Wellness Chair, Eileen Cody (D-34)
  • House Finance Chair, Noel Frame (D-36, aims to switch chambers)
  • Senate Environment, Energy, & Technology Chair, Reuven Carlyle (D-36)
  • House Labor & Workplace Standards Chair, Mike Sells (D-38)
  • House State Government & Tribal Relations Chair, Javier Valdez (D-46, hopes to switch chambers)
  • Senate Behavioral Health Subcommittee to Health & Long Term Care Chair, David Frockt (D-46)

Quasi-Open Chairs: The following people seek re-election and are chairs

  • House Commerce & Gaming Chair, Shelly Kloba (D-1)
  • House Appropriations Chair, Timm Ormsby (R-3)
  • House Housing, Human Services, & Veterans Chair, Strom Peterson (D-21)
  • House Civil Rights & Judiciary Chair, Drew Hansen (D-23)
  • House Rural Development, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Chair, Mike Chapman (D-24)
  • House Capital Budget Chair, Steve Tharinger (D-24)
  • Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Chair, Emily Randall (D-26)
  • House Rules Chair, Laurie Jinkins (D-27)
  • House Transportation Chair, Jake Fey (D-27)
  • Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Chair, Claire Wilson (D-30)
  • House Public Safety Chair, Roger Goodman (D-45)
  • House Local Government Chair, Gerry Pollett (D-46)

And then, there’s the folks who stepped away from office but weren’t chairs—like Kirsten Harris-Talley, who we’ll sorely miss. Specific committee vacancies can be important because that person could’ve been one of the swing OR reliable votes blocking dangerous bills and/or helping pass important ones. Sure, the biggest hurdle is the chairs. But say a chair does put bills on their committee’s agenda; we need to assess how the votes will go based on who all are in the committees, too. The committees with the highest amount of reshuffling are Appropriations (8 people in it aren’t staying in office), and Children, Youth & Families (with 5 people exiting). There’s 4 other committees with 4 people leaving each one as well!

Here’s the BIG picture on all the candidates and who’s exiting specific committees. (Our communications consultant highlighted the more interesting races in bright yellow.)

If you have specific bills or topics you care about, consider the ways these Chair and committee changes might impact them! For example, if you care about police brutality and the legal system, you’ll probably want to keep an eye on the Children, Youth & Families; Public Safety; and Civil Rights & Judiciary Committees. Or if you worry about the climate crisis, keep an eye on the Transportation, Environment & Energy, housing, agricultural, and natural resource committees. But some aren’t always so straight forward. Like, if you care about ultimately any bill passing, you’ll also have to care about who fill the Senate Ways & Means and Rules Committees, along with House Finance; Rules; and Appropriations because they’re often one of the last Committees a bill has to pass through.

P.S. While the 8th district only has Republican candidates, they will be swapping out blue-lives-matter-wedding-ring-er Brad Klippert—he’s not running for re-election because he hopes to make it into Congress. Wasn’t the chair of anything, but a good heads up.

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