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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 30, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 35
Laurie Jinkins becomes first woman and first LGBTQ Speaker of State House
Section One
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Laurie Jinkins becomes first woman and first LGBTQ Speaker of State House

by Tim Peter - SGN Contributing Writer

State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, Democrat of Tacoma, is the new Speaker of the state House of Representatives; she is the first female and first LGBTQ person to be hold the office. She replaces Rep. Frank Chopp of Seattle who stepped down as speaker after a quarter century; he remains an active member of the House. According to the Washington state constitution, acting Speaker John Lovick (D-Mill Creek, 44th District) will continue serving as acting speaker until the start of the next legislative session, which convenes on January 13, 2020.

Jinkins represents the 27th Legislative District in Pierce County. When she's not serving in the legislature, she is also Deputy Director of Tacoma-Pierce County Public Health. Before winning election in 2010, she served in the state Department of Health as Assistant Secretary. Additionally, she earned a law degree from Seattle University.

'Jinkins started her career litigating child abuse and neglect cases for the state Attorney General's Office,' according to her website, www.lauriejinkins.com. 'She then shifted her career toward public health, eventually serving as an assistant secretary of health at the state Department of Health before taking the position of interim director, deputy director and director of organizational development at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, where she continues to serve.'

She has worked hard for social justice issues in Washington state. She advocated for a woman's right to choose (whether or not to have an abortion); worked to end domestic violence, promoted immigration reforms and living wages for all. In 2009, she co-chaired the state's Referendum 71 campaign regarding domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. (In 2012, Ref. 74 was approved by the voters to provide for same-sex marriage in the Evergreen State.)

She is currently chair of the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee and sits on the House Appropriations and Health Care & Wellness Committees. Several bills which she worked on were signed into law: reducing medical debt bankruptcies, expanding access to life-saving drugs to chronically ill patients, and a first-in-the-nation Long-Term Care Trust Act. She has devoted much of her legislative career to improving Washington's behavioral health system.

Following her election as Speaker she said, '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 lives in Tacoma with her wife, Laura Wulf, and their 18-year-old son. They married in 2013, just a few months short of their 25th anniversary.

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