Washington State House Democrats


Taking you behind the scenes

2015 OPR Staff Legislative Support Services
Office of Program Research Staff – 2015

Our Amazing Legislative Staff

Our state legislature has some of the most talented and dedicated public employees who work extremely hard to make everything come together during session. Whether it’s policy research and analysis, bills and amendments drafted on deadlines, or press releases and speeches to keep our constituents informed, our professional staff members are the people working behind the scenes to get the work done for all of us.

During the past couple of weeks, legislators have been voting on the floor into the evening. Then, the staff still face hours of work to prepare for the next day. I’m lucky to have Andy McVicar, webmaster and communications specialist extraordinaire, as my go-to person for late-breaking web postings and town hall preparations. And as a former research analyst, I am so grateful for the exceptional work of our non-partisan staff in the Office of Program Research. They are the engine that keeps the legislature working.

Rep. Tarleton and staff Legislative Support Services
Rep. Tarleton and intern Ben Reh

House Intern Ben Reh

Every session, legislators are assigned legislative interns who take the initiative to pursue opportunities in Olympia. This session I won the lottery with Ben Reh.   A senior at Western Washington University, Ben spent his winter quarter interning for me and my colleague, Representative Brady Walkinshaw. Ben is smart, self-reliant, and dependable.

For 10 weeks, he has tracked legislation and worked on policy analysis focusing on energy and economic development. He says his favorite part of the internship has been learning about energy issues and talking with our policy staff, legislators and industry professionals about their priorities and the legislative process.

This week, Ben heads back to WWU where he’ll graduate in June with an economics degree. I hope he has enjoyed his stint in the state legislature as much as I’ve enjoyed getting to know him. I am confident that his exceptional work ethic and love of learning will serve him well on whatever path he chooses.

Rep. Gael Tarleton with Page Grace Johnson Legislative Support Services
Rep. Gael Tarleton with Page Grace Johnson

Constituent Grace Johnson pages for the House

Getting to know the young people in our communities is a great way to restore our hope for the future. Students in middle school, high school, and college are regular visitors in Olympia. They come to my office, advocating for their teachers and educational opportunities. Recently I sponsored a Legislative Page, Grace Johnson.

Grace is my constituent and an 8th grader at Our Lady of Fatima middle school. She is amazing. During her week as a Page, she witnessed the House passing the Equal Pay Act. She watched legislators working late into the evening and she made new friends with the other Pages. With her energy and drive, she was a perfect fit for the legislative environment.

I’m thrilled that Grace will be attending Ballard High School next year. She’s one of the reasons I’ll keep fighting to fund our kids first and advocating for affordable and accessible higher education. For Grace, the future must be an open door.

Medal of Valor for Oso Heroes

 Legislative Support ServicesEarlier this week, the Legislature honored the communities who suffered terrible losses a year ago during the Oso landslide. Governor Inslee presented the people of Oso, Darrington, Arlington, and the Sauk-Suiatle Tribe with the Washington Medal of Valor, which recognizes extraordinary efforts to save and attempt to save lives of Washingtonians in the face of adversity.

During this joint session of the House and Senate with the Governor and the State Supreme Court, we gathered to remember the 43 people who were lost in one of the worst disasters in state history. We were honored to present the Medal of Valor to these communities in recognition of their courageous acts to save their friends and neighbors during the horrific landslide on March 22, 2014.

 36th District Town Hall Discussion

Thank you so much to the nearly 170 residents of the 36th District who participated in our 36th District town hall meeting last Saturday! Citizen engagement is in full swing here in Seattle’s northwest corner. It was great to get back to the district to hear from you after just completing House of Origin cut-off for policy bills this session.

We’re lucky to have such a strong sense of community in our district and it is an honor to work with Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Representative Reuven Carlyle on behalf of the residents of the 36th District and all of Washington State.

You kept the discussions lively and wide-ranging with your questions on the many critical issues we face this session, especially on education, transportation investments, oil train safety, expanded solar choices, coal plant closures, and tax reform. Thank you again for taking the time to participate in town halls, which are a form of government unique to democratic societies.

As spring arrives and the end of the legislative session is just weeks away, we face important choices and decisions for our communities and our state. Forward progress is the goal. So much happens behind the scenes that affects all of us. Many thanks for being part of the work that must get done.

Your voice in Olympia,