August 5, 2019
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State Rep. Laurie Jinkins selected as new Speaker of the House

House Democrats picked state Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, as the new Speaker of the House last week. Jinkins, 54, is the first woman House speaker in state history.

Jinkins won the job in a four-way race that also included state Reps. Gael Tarleton, D-Ballard; Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver; and June Robinson, D-Everett.

The election was held at a SeaTac hotel.

"I'm really proud to be the first woman, the first out lesbian serving in this position," Jinkins said at a news conference after the election. "I'm excited to serve all people, but to also have representation that helps a lot of people who've never seen themselves in these roles before be able to start seeing themselves in these roles."

Jinkins is a lawyer who currently chairs the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee. She was first elected in 2010, and currently works for the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department as a director, Austin Jenkins of Northwest News Network reports.

Jinkins got her start defending LGBT rights, Melissa Santos of Crosscut reports. She co-chaired a statewide campaign in 2009 that legalized domestic partnerships between same-sex couples.

Recently, she’s been “heavily involved” in political action committees that support electing women and people of color to the Legislature, Santos writes. And she pushed for the state’s Long-Term Care Trust Act, which will provide up to $36,500 in long term care benefits for those that need it.

She also loves a good joke, Santos writes.

The Washington State Wire listed four changes that might be expected under Jinkins' leadership, including more ambitious legislation and a more collegial atmosphere.

The new speaker alluded to that in her news conference.

"Mostly I want to have an open door,” she said. “I want to have engagement with people, I want to make sure that people feel like they can push back on ideas and stuff because I think those are the things that make our policies better.”

You can watch TVW’s press conference coverage here.

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