Washington State House Democrats


Democrats elect Rep. Laurie Jinkins to serve as next speaker of the House

SEATAC, Wash. – Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D–Tacoma) has been elected to serve as the next speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington state.

House Democrats gathered in SeaTac on Wednesday to elect the next speaker. Jinkins, who will be the first woman and first open lesbian to serve as speaker of the House in Washington state, was elected by her peers among four candidates seeking the position.

Statement from speaker-designate Laurie Jinkins:

“I first ran for public office because I wanted to make sure all families have the same opportunities for success. Washington continues to rank among the top states to live, work, and do business in large part due to the forward-thinking policies adopted by the Legislature over the last twenty years. We made sure all kids have access to health care regardless of family income. We have some of the best colleges and universities in the nation. And we support families by embracing marriage equality, paid family leave, equal pay, and many other polices. I want every family to have the same opportunities my family has had, and that vision will be the guiding force during my service as speaker.

“I thank my colleagues for their confidence. This will be the most challenging job I’ll ever have but I am humbled and buoyed by the support of members of this caucus.  For 20 years, we’ve worked together to improve quality of life on behalf of the people of Washington and House Democrats are committed to continuing that work for communities and families all across the state.”

Jinkins began her career protecting Washington’s children from abuse and neglect and has spent the last 20 years advancing public health. Before her election, Jinkins’ community involvement focused on higher education, improving city government, advancing Washington’s anti-discrimination laws and serving Tacoma’s non-profit sector.

Jinkins earned her Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law (then the University of Puget Sound School Of Law). Click here for her full bio.

Jinkins, who began her first term as a state representative in 2011, is currently the chair of the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee, and sits on the House Appropriations and Health Care & Wellness Committees.

Jinkins has championed several legislative proposals that were signed into law in recent years, including bills to reduce medical debt bankruptcies, expand access to life-saving drugs to chronically ill patients, and a first-in-the-nation Long-Term Care Trust Act.  Jinkins has devoted much of her legislative career to improving Washington’s behavioral health system.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to have Rep. Jinkins as our new speaker-designate,” said seatmate Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma). “Laurie has been a fantastic mentor to me throughout my time in the Legislature. She has spent much of her professional and legislative career in public health, dedicated to improving the lives of others. She’s deeply committed to making her community a better place to live and work. Laurie will bring that same passion to her role as speaker as she leads our caucus, the House, and the Washington state.”

Jinkins succeeds Rep. Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) who served as speaker of the House for two decades. Chopp resigned from the position in May.

“Congratulations to Rep. Jinkins on her election as speaker,” said Chopp. “One of the many things I respect and admire about Laurie is her commitment to people in need. Her efforts to push for a first-in-the-nation Long-Term Care Trust Act, which ensures our aging population are cared for in their later years in life, will help keep more families out of poverty. She’ll bring that same passion to the speaker’s office while dealing with the variety of challenges and opportunities facing our state.”

Jinkins will immediately receive the title of “speaker-designate” and assume several House leadership responsibilities associated with the role.

According to the Washington state constitution, acting Speaker John Lovick (D-Mill Creek) will continue serving as acting speaker until the start of the next legislative session, which convenes on January 13, 2020.

“It’s been a great honor and privilege serving as acting speaker during this transition,” said Lovick. “I look forward to continuing in this role and working collaboratively with speaker-designate Jinkins until January when her confirmation becomes official.”

Core responsibilities of the speaker include serving as the presiding officer of the House of Representatives, chair of Executive Rules (House administrative committee), and chair of the House Rules committee. The speaker appoints other elected members to standing and statutory committees, signs all bills in open session, and oversees all employees of the House.