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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington State Legislature makeup, leadership almost finalized ahead of 2023 session

Sen. Andy Billig, clockwise from top, D-Spokane, talks Thursday with Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, and Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, on the floor of the Senate in Olympia.  (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

OLYMPIA – Not much will change in the Washington state Legislature next session, despite hopes from Republicans that they could take control of at least one chamber.

Democrats will enter 2023 with strong majorities in both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate. As of Wednesday, Democrats will likely lead with a 29-20 majority in the Senate and 58-40 in the House.

“The people of Washington have again chosen Democrats to lead in our state Legislature, and our caucus is ready to get to work on their behalf,” House Speaker Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, said in a statement Monday. Jinkins will enter her third term as speaker this session after being re-elected by her caucus members Monday.

Two races are still close as of Wednesday and could result in manual recounts after results are certified next week. In the 26th Legislative District in Pierce and Kitsap counties, Republican Spencer Hutchins was leading Democrat Adison Richards by 732 votes. In the 10th Legislative District, which includes parts of Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties, Democrat Clyde Shavers leads Republican Greg Gilday by 137 votes.

As the Legislature enters a budget year, a large Democratic majority could mean a push for a number of progressive policies. Republicans have criticized Democrats in recent years for their push to pass a capital gains tax, restrictions on gun magazines, police reform legislation to limit use of force by officers and a number of bills to address climate change through a low carbon fuel standard and cap-and-trade program.

Leadership in the four caucuses has not changed much going into the 2023 session.

Spokane Democrat Andy Billig was re-elected to his third term as majority leader November 18, having first been elected by his colleagues in 2018.

“Washington state is a wonderful place to live, play and work, and we have so many accomplishments to be proud of, but there is still a lot of work left to do,” Billig said.

He pointed to work on housing, the economy, access to reproductive health and defending democracy as top of mind for Washington residents.

Seattle Democrat Sen. Bob Hasegawa was elected to his second term as caucus chair.

In the House, Jinkins was re-elected to House Speaker and West Seattle Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon was elected House Majority Leader.

“I’m honored to have earned the trust of my colleagues to serve as their Majority Leader, and I’m excited to get to work on our agenda to make life better for all Washingtonians,” Fitzgibbon said in a statement Monday.

Republican Rep. J.T. Wilcox, of Yelm, was re-elected the House Republican leader last week. In a statement, Wilcox said he and the rest of the Republican Caucus are “ready to go to work for the people of Washington.”

Spokane-area representatives will also have leadership positions within the Republican party.

Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, will again serve as the deputy leader of the caucus, and Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, will again serve as the floor leader for the caucus.

The 2023 legislative session will begin Jan. 9 and will run 105 days.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.