April 29, 2019
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House Democrats to choose new speaker this summer

House Democrats will meet July 31 to pick a new Speaker of the House to replace Frank Chopp, the state's longest-serving speaker of the House in history, and the second-longest serving house speaker in the nation.

Chopp, 65, will retain his seat in the House, but will step down as speaker after this legislative session. Chopp, first elected to the House in 1994, became co-Speaker of the House in 1999, sharing the gavel with Rep. Clyde Ballard, R-East Wenatchee. Democrats won a special election in 2001, and Chopp became sole speaker in 2002.

Four main candidates have emerged to take over as speaker:

  •  Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, chair of the House Judiciary Committee (who has not yet formally announced her candidacy for speaker, but is considering it)
  •  Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, a House budget negotiator
  •  Rep. Monica Jurado Stonier, D-Vancouver, the House majority floor leader
  •  Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, chair of the House Finance Committee

Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, has said he is interested in serving as speaker temporarily through the end of the calendar year.

"The speaker wields tremendous power in the House when it comes to deciding which legislation advances and which will languish and die," writes Melissa Santos in Crosscut. "Some of that power comes from the speaker’s role chairing the Rules Committee, which decides which bills will go to the House floor and in what order. Other parts of the job occur mostly behind the scenes, such as brokering deals and applying pressure in private meetings."

Whoever is selected as speaker by the Democratic caucus will officially take the position after a floor vote at the start of the 2020 legislative session in January.

House members paid homage to Chopp with a display of fake mustaches on the final day of session. The House Democrats have a Twitter roundup of the #FrankStache.

The Seattle Times and The News Tribune also covered the story.

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Teaching for Tomorrow

STEM skills vital to rural students, too

By Kevin Chase, superintendent of ESD 105

In the next five years an estimated 225,465 jobs that earn a family-sustaining wage will require credentials that many of our Washingtonian students are not on track to earn. In south-central Washington, 14,455 high-paying jobs will need a credential in the next five years.

I see the chasm between education attainment and how that translates to employment and jobs. We have to make changes in our education system that allow our families and kids to visualize their path forward and to have local employers be able to recruit and train their workforce in novel ways. Career Connect Washington, a statewide initiative, is bringing together business, labor, government and education leaders so that young people have the education and skills needed to connect with high-demand, family-wage careers across Washington and in the Valley...

Even though we are an agriculture-based region we are not immune from changing workforce demands, as agriculture becomes more and more automated. Our students are ready and willing to step up to the challenge of 21st century work demands. It is up to us to prepare them...

Read the full op-ed in The Yakima Herald-Republic
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