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Inside Olympia — House Leaders

This week host Austin Jenkins goes in depth with the top leaders in the State House of Representatives: Democratic House Speaker Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, and House Minority Leader Drew Stokesbary, Republican of Auburn.

The two leaders offer differing views of the state of the state. Jinkins says the state is going in the right direction, while acknowledging there’s more to do. Stokesbary discusses what he calls a growing “catalog of crises,” from crime to school students to the cost of living.

On K-12 schools, Speaker Jinkins says the most helpful thing the 2024 Legislature can do is help paraeducators, through pay increases and other support. On housing, acting to limit rent increases is a top priority for her caucus. She thinks new spending of about $1 billion in the budget is a good starting point for discussions, less than the $2 billion proposed by Governor Inslee. She said her members are also focused on the issues of child care; addressing the fentanyl and opioid crisis; and behavioral health.

On what the Legislature should do with the six initiatives turned in to the Washington Secretary of State, Jinkins said her caucus will treat each one individually as far as how to handle them, and whether they’ll receive a legislative hearing. According to Stokesbary the constitution says initiatives take precedence over other bills, and should at least receive a hearing.

Stokesbary said priorities for his caucus include funding police recruiting and retention; promoting the culture of law enforcement – he believes that culture is instead being torn down in Washington; give tax rebates to Washington drivers; use general fund dollars to help shore up transportation funding; incentivizing rather than mandating lower rents; and cracking down on opioid manufacturers and dealers.