Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Incoming House speaker on housing, guns, Tacoma and her law school nickname

Elaine Thompson
The Associated Press
State Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, smiles while being introduced at a news conference following a caucus meeting and vote by Democrats choosing Jinkins as Washington state's speaker of the House in July, the first woman in that role.


In July, Washington House Democrats chose Rep. Laurie Jinkins to be the next Speaker of the House. She represents the 27th Legislative District, which includes downtown Tacoma, Hilltop and Point Defiance.

She succeeds Rep. Frank Chopp, who stepped down from the speaker’s chair — but not the House — earlier this year. He served as speaker for 20 years.

Speaker-designate Jinkins, as she’ll be called until a vote of the full House in January, sat down with KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco in our Tacoma studios to talk about the job, big issues facing the state, and the city she’s called home since 1987.


On Tacoma’s identity: “I really believe in and agree with the term that’s used for Tacoma as it being a ‘gritty city.’ I know there are some people who really don’t like that, but the way I interpret that is we’re folks who work really hard, tend to be a lot of working class folks who have long histories in the community. We are always looking for ways to improve our community.”

On housing issues: “One of the nuts we haven’t cracked … is how can we, at a state level, entice private development of affordable housing. And then there are issues around density and Growth Management Act issues. Those are things we have to think about, too, so there’s a whole bunch of different things. There’s never a single solution to a complex problem.”

On gun control: “I think there’s been a lot of discussion about an assault weapons ban and high-capacity magazines. Because of (Initiative 1639) it would take a two-thirds majority to do an assault weapons ban this next year. So I would call on my R colleagues to work on that with us if that’s something folks are interested in. Looking at high-capacity magazines is something I’m particularly interested in. But that’s something my caucus is going to have to discuss. We haven’t discussed it as a caucus yet.”

On becoming speaker of the house: “I knew I would be the first woman and the first out lesbian when I ran (for speaker). But I was really focused on just the basic job of being speaker, and when I talked to members it was really about that. One of the most surprising things was, when I was elected, how important that was to people. If my election, and my serving in this role, gives any young woman or any LGBTQ person — or I think people of color can also analogize from this; people who have been outsiders to the political system — if it gives a single person the ability to envision themselves in this role, I think all of that is worth it.”

Rep. Frank Chopp, the longest-serving House speaker in Washington state history who recently retired from the position, talks with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.