March 1, 2018

On Thursday night I joined my colleagues in asking Governor Jay Inslee to veto Senate Bill 6617, a bill that I voted for. I will not vote to override the veto.

Thanks to extensive communications with my constituents, I came to realize that although this bill was crafted with good intent, its expedited passage was antithetical to the very principles of good governance that I hoped it would preserve. There are necessary provisions and clarifications to how the state Legislature adheres to the Public Records Act. They should only become law after comprehensive public input.

My colleagues and I invite the public to take an extensive role in the creation of new legislation to provide transparency and oversight at the Legislature. I also invite the participation of government transparency experts, and the media, so that we can make the legislative process more transparent.

Because the Legislature has long held that it was exempt from the Public Records Act, we do not currently have processes, technology, and training in place to handle requests for information the right way. Constituents who write us with sensitive information should never fear that it will become public, and we must protect the privacy of whistleblowers, victims of abuse, and others who approach their representatives for refuge.

But we need you to help us create those processes. We must have hearings and we must include all those whom we serve. I apologize for having participated in the flawed process by which SB 6617 was passed, and pledge to rectify it and restore public trust in this institution. Thank you for guiding me, and showing just how important your voice is in the creation of Washington’s laws.

Your voice in Olympia,

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We finished on time!

A strong, progressive agenda that puts people first

After five years with a divided Legislature, Democrats, now in control of the House and Senate, set out to enact a strong progressive agenda during the 2018 session. And while we didn’t get everything we wanted (in large part due to the short 60-day session calendar we have to work with in even years) we are celebrating an impressive list of accomplishments that put people first.

With your voice and your support, we made extraordinary progress on many fronts. I believe that historians will regard this year as a turning point for the people of our state.

Your public agencies and elected officials have played a key role in securing and expanding equal rights and equal access to opportunity for all Washingtonians.

Everyone wins: voters; women; people of color; students, teachers, and college faculty; people with developmental disabilities; homeowners on fixed incomes; workers in every workplace; and family members and neighbors struggling with poverty, addictions, and homelessness.

K-12 education

student, classroom, education

I believe the State Supreme Court will determine the state has met its paramount duty to fully fund K-12 education – for the first time in more than 40 years! With nearly $1 billion of accelerated funding for teacher salaries, special education, and school counselors, our 2018 budget – sent on time to the governor for signature – should be the final installment over a six-year period on our more than $15 billion commitment to our one million-plus K-12 children in 295 school districts across our state.

Last year, despite strong efforts by Democrats to enact progressive revenue alternatives, lawmakers voted in favor of the Republican property tax increase plan to address the school funding crisis. (It was either that, or face a catastrophic government shutdown.)

This year, with strong economic growth, we decided enough was enough: Democrats lowered your property taxes while fully funding our schools. One Washington wins.

Equal access to the vote

democracy, voting, vote, voting rights, elections

Wow! We forged a bipartisan, bicameral partnership to protect and secure “Access to Democracy” legislation. Leading with the Voting Rights Act to protect against voter disenfranchisement that suppresses minority representation, we then adopted automatic voter registration, same-day registration, 16- and 17-year old pre-registration, and sunshine laws for hidden money in campaign financing.

The Legislature makes Civics Education a requirement in our public schools, helping students of all ages know why they have a stake in the rule of law that protects our republic and advances democracy. We also protect the integrity of the ballot with ground-breaking election security laws.

And I introduced a bill to ensure our election systems and data are secured against foreign influence. We’ll begin public discussion and debate in 2019.

Equal rights for women, people of color, LGBTQ members, and workers

lab, woman, medicine, student

I’ve argued for years that we needed an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But while we wait for that, Washington state is forging ahead. This year, we made equality real: The Equal Pay Act. Reproductive Parity Act.

Conversion Therapy ban. Bargaining representation. Healthcare Workers’ labor rights. Twelve-month birth control prescriptions. The Dream Act (round two) for undocumented college students to receive financial aid. Every email, phone call, visit, and rally by advocates, friends, family, and communities made all the difference.

My Mum used to say that ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference.

You all did!!! We have expanded equal rights and equal access to opportunity under the law for millions of Washingtonians. Be proud of being part of this victory.

Affordable, accessible higher education

college, student, UW, campus, higher education

At long last, Democrats put the state on a pathway to fully fund the state’s financial assistance (State Need Grant) to nearly 25,000 eligible higher education students and passed laws to protect students from student loan sharks. For six years I have worked with my colleagues on the House Higher Education Committee to break down financial barriers for access to college in order to give students a more secure economic future.

Every year, we’ve made some progress. This year, the students, veterans, and their families, faculty, administrators, and alumni organizations all joined forces and made fully funding the State Need Grant their top priority.

They won! Most important, our state’s future wins too.

Climate Action – not enough, but making headway

solar, green, environment, energy

The public is pushing us to make progress faster on climate change to avoid the severe risks to our way of life if we don’t act now. This year our 36th District Senator Reuven Carlyle led the first-ever bipartisan effort in the Senate to adopt a carbon pollution tax. I led a parallel effort in the House to adopt a 100-percent fossil-free mandate for our electric grid by 2045.

We both fought it out to the finish line. Both of our bills were voted out of two committees in our respective chambers to be eligible for floor action. Additionally, I fought to protect Sound Transit-3 from any financial cuts. If we’re going to make progress on a clean energy future, we need rail and electric vehicle infrastructure.

There is a path to victory here. We must be relentless.

Protection against gun violence

It is a brutal truth that innocents – children at school, people in the wrong public place at the wrong time – are being massacred by people with all-to-easy access to assault weapons.

These are weapons of war designed for a single purpose: to kill the most amount of people in the least amount of time. I told my colleagues and gun safety advocates that it is time to stop using euphemisms to describe gun violence. No more “incidents” or “events” or “tragic loss of life.”

Thoughts and prayers are not enough. It is time to end the slaughter of innocents by people wielding assault weapons.

This year, the Legislature did ban the sale and possession of bump-stocks, the technology that transforms a weapon into a mass killing machine within seconds. We also created a voluntary “no-buy” list where individuals at risk of mental health crises can put themselves on a list to not buy a gun.

This is not nearly enough progress on this front. But every time we say “no” to gun violence, we’re making it clear to our courts and special interests that we will fight to protect people who have a right to expect to be safe when they’re in school, at church, or a movie theater.

Two capital budgets – One Washington

construction, capital, jobs

If 2017 made history for the first year that the Legislature did not adopt a capital construction budget, 2018 also makes history for passing two capital budgets in 60 days. Tens of thousands of jobs will be created across the state to build schools, hospitals, housing for people with mental illnesses, affordable housing, and community centers and parks.

The 36th District continues to lead the way for music, the arts, public parks, and community services. Seattle Center projects for the opera, Seattle Theater Group, and Pacific Science Center support renovations and public programming for the next generation.

The Ballard Locks fish ladder will be remodeled with new educational programming. The Washington National Guard’s potential relocation from its Ballard-Interbay location has spurred the need to examine future public uses for these industrial lands, an effort I will lead.

And after seeing how much our city, county and region depend on the Evergreen Treatment Services Center on Airport Way, I led the effort with colleagues from several other Seattle districts to secure $3 million to support the purchase and eventual expansion of this critical substance abuse treatment center to help those struggling to end addiction.

Thank  you for standing up and speaking out for these last sixty days. You held us accountable for how we do our work in public. In the coming months, the legislators will work with the public and the press to adopt a robust public records disclosure policy to let the sun shine in on how your legislators do our jobs.

Your voice in Olympia,


Gael began her career as a senior defense intelligence analyst for the Pentagon, working on security issues affecting ports across the country and other critical facilities. In 1989, she was the youngest person ever to receive in public the Director of Central Intelligence’s “National Intelligence Medal of Achievement” for recognition of her exceptional contributions to protecting vital national interests.

After a decade working at the Pentagon, Gael ran two international subsidiaries of a Fortune 500 company in Russia. She was responsible for creating disaster preparedness and emergency response plans for ports nationwide. Her work helped rebuild the country after the Cold War collapse, employing new technologies in an effort to clean up nuclear waste and prevent environmental disasters.

Gael most recently worked as a strategic advisor for the Institute for National Security Education and Research at the University of Washington.

First elected to serve the people of King County as a Port of Seattle Commissioner in 2007, Gael was re-elected in 2011 and served as Commission President in 2012. During her five years at the Port, Gael has worked to increase transparency, protect the environment, and bring an end to human trafficking. During this time, she also served as a technical advisor for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Seattle.

Gael was first elected to represent the 36th legislative district in 2012. She will focus on creating jobs, safeguarding our environment, ensuring government accountability, adequately funding higher education, and funding health care.

Gael was recently appointed to serve on several boards and work groups such as the Women Legislators Lobby (WiLL), Pacific NorthWest Economic Region, and Legislators’ Energy Horizons Institute. She also co-chairs the Washington State Aviation Caucus with Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside.

She holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. The Northwest Asian Weekly honored her with the “Women Leaders 2012” award, and she also received the “Maritime Industry Official of the Year 2012” award.

Gael and her husband, Bob, have lived in the 36th District’s Ballard neighborhood for nearly two decades. The Olympic Peninsula has been their favorite spot to fish for salmon and steelhead and go hiking for 25 years.

Seattle’s Working Waterfront

The city of Seattle cherishes its connections to the water – it’s all around us. The state legislature created a taskforce on maritime and manufacturing industries, which I co-chair.

This bipartisan, bicameral group is exploring what we need to do to hold onto the jobs and industrial lands for our maritime and fishing companies. Protecting our waterfront will provide our communities with sustainable fisheries, a healthy environment and future economic opportunities we can depend on.

This is why I love our working waterfront:

This segment shows the working waterfront and what it means for the future of our children and the many jobs that are part of maritime and manufacturing sectors:

Economic Resilience of Maritime and Manufacturing Taskforce covers several core sectors including fishing and seafood processing, ship and boat building, maritime logistics, military security and federal operations support, passenger water transportation and tourism.

This link includes information on the Taskforce, upcoming public meetings and work sessions and the Final Work Plan, which maps out the work of the Taskforce.

Below is also a list of Economic Impact Studies for an in-depth look at varying sectors in the Maritime Industry and their tremendous contributions to our state’s economy:
Port of Seattle
Port of Tacoma
WA State Maritime Cluster Impact Study
City of Seattle Maritime Cluster
Commercial Fishing Industry

Additional Resources on the Working Waterfront and Maritime & Manufacturing Industries:
National Working Waterfront Network
Sea Grant Washington
Department of Commerce Maritime Industry

News Releases

  • We finished on time! | E-newsletters - March 13, 2018
    A strong, progressive agenda that puts people first After five years with a divided Legislature, Democrats, now in control of the House and Senate, set out to enact a strong progressive agenda during the 2018 session. And while we didn’t... READ MORE
  • Representative Gael Tarleton statement on veto request of SB 6617 | News - March 1, 2018
    On Thursday night I joined my colleagues in asking Governor Jay Inslee to veto Senate Bill 6617, a bill that I voted for. I will not vote to override the veto. Thanks to extensive communications with my constituents, I came... READ MORE
  • My side of the public records story | News - February 25, 2018
    As many of my constituents now know, the State House and Senate passed Senate Bill 6617 this past Friday, which states that “the legislature intends to establish records disclosure obligations that preserve the independent deliberation of the people’s representatives while... READ MORE
  • Tarleton’s bill to help rebuild aging fishing vessels wins House approval | News - February 9, 2018
    OLYMPIA – A bill to help rebuild the Seattle-based North Pacific Fishing Fleet passed by a 97-1 vote in the Washington State House of Representatives on Thursday. HB 1154, sponsored by Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Ballard, ensures the region’s competitiveness in... READ MORE
  • Tarleton’s bill to strengthen state cycbercrime laws wins House approval | News - February 8, 2018
    OLYMPIA – Lawmakers in Olympia voted 97-1 to toughen cybercrime laws in Washington state. HB 2678, sponsored by Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Ballard, expands the scope of the crime of Electronic Data Tampering to provide additional protections against digital stalking and... READ MORE
  • Bill Blog

    HB 1154 – Fishing & seafood processing

    March 6, 2018 HB 1154 will have a public hearing in the Senate Ways & Means committee. It is also scheduled for executive session. You can watch the committee deliberation and vote live on TVW at 2:30 below.   February... READ MORE

    HB 2678 – Cybercrime

    February 8, 2018 HB 2678 was approved by the House of Representatives today by a strong bipartisan vote – 97-1. It now goes to the Senate for consideration with 28 days left to go in the 2018 legislative session. Watch... READ MORE

    HB 2609 – Distilleries

    February 12, 2018 HB 2609 was pulled to the floor calendar. This means it could receive a vote of the full House of Representatives as early as today. It will need to be approved by the full House by tomorrow... READ MORE

    HB 2402 – Energy Independence Act

      March 8, 2018 HB 2402 did not receive a vote in the House before we adjourned for the year. I’m glad to see significant climate legislation made it through the committee process in both the House and Senate this... READ MORE


    Legislator Profiles with State Representative Gael Tarleton, 36th District.

    Strengthen the middle class through investments in higher education

    Building an economy that works for everyone means making college affordable and accessible. In a state known for its high-tech and engineering industries, Washington House Democrats are committed to removing barriers to college. Here’s Rep. Gael Tarleton sharing ideas on how to strengthen the middle class through investments in higher education. #waleg

    Posted by Washington House Democrats on Friday, February 26, 2016

    Queen Anne & Magnolia News
    Passage of state’s capital budget means key funds locally

    The long-awaited passage of the state’s $4.2 billion capital budget in the opening weeks of the legislative session means much-needed funds for a bevy of local projects.

    The Stranger:
    State House Passes Pay Equity Bill

    With a 69-28 vote, the Washington State House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday to update Washington State’s gender pay equity laws and expand protections against pay secrecy. Click here for the story.

    Queen Anne & Magnolia News:
    Legislators chart course for session

    The 2018 legislative session starts on Monday in Olympia, and local lawmakers are hopeful that this year, they’ll be done on time. …

    My Ballard
    Rep. Gael Tarleton recognized for career and technical education advocacy

    Our State Representative Gael Tarleton (D-Ballard) has been recognized for her work to raise funds for career and technical education (CTE) in middle and high schools and skill centers.


    Olympia Address:
    429A Legislative Building
    PO Box 40600
    Olympia, WA 98504

    (360) 786-7860
    Email Gael

    Legislative Assistant:
    Jacob Thorpe
    Email: Jacob.Thorpe@leg.wa.gov

    In-District Phone:
    (206) 545-6570

    Toll-free Hotline:
    1-800-635-9993 (TTY)

    Technology & Economic Development (Vice Chair)
    Higher Education

    For Press Inquiries:
    Andy McVicar, Deputy Communications Director
    (360) 786-7215

    For broadcast-quality audio or TV/radio interviews:
    Dan Frizzell, Broadcast Coordinator
    (360) 786-7208

    Washington State House Democrats

    The information on these pages was created by House staff for legislative purposes and is a historical record of legislative events and activities. None of this material is intended to either directly or indirectly assist any campaign for office or ballot proposition. RCW 42.52.180 prohibits the use of public resources for campaign purposes.