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May 27, 2022

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Washington state Sen. Reuven Carlyle will not seek reelection in 2022

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OLYMPIA — Reuven Carlyle, a longtime Seattle legislator who has championed government transparency, digital privacy and key climate-change legislation like the new statewide cap-and-invest law, announced Monday he won’t seek reelection this year.

A Democrat from Seattle’s 36th Legislative District, Carlyle won election to the state House in 2008, eventually chairing the House Finance Committee, which handles tax policy. He won his first Senate campaign in a 2016 special election, and won a full four-year term in 2018.

In recent years, Carlyle has drafted and steered big-ticket climate legislation, such as the law passed in 2019 to end the use of fossil-fuel power in the state’s electric grid by 2045. That was a major piece of Gov. Jay Inslee’s yearslong push for laws to combat climate change and transition to clean energy.

As chair of the Senate Environment, Energy & Technology Committee, Carlyle last year authored the law to create a carbon-pricing program designed to drive down pollution to net zero emissions in Washington by 2050.

In an interview Monday morning, Carlyle, 56, said he felt a “sense of fulfillment” from his years at the Legislature and it was a good time to move on.

“It’s good timing,” he said. “I feel like I’ve left it all on the field.”

Carlyle, who is a business consultant in his day job, isn’t retiring from the Legislature to take another position, he said, and will serve out the remainder of his term.

Over the years, Carlyle sponsored a host of good-government bills, such as one to create a “cooling-off” period before public servants can become private lobbyists. In Washington, one in five registered lobbyists come from state government, often within months, weeks or even days.

Ideas like that haven’t gained traction in Olympia, where lawmakers and staffers in the Legislature or governor’s office go on to lucrative lobbying careers. Carlyle said Monday that his cooling-off proposal was likely to go nowhere again this year.

In 2018, Carlyle was one of only seven senators to oppose legislation to exempt the Legislature from Washington’s voter-approved 1972 public-records law.

That bill came in the face of a lawsuit by news organizations — including The Associated Press — challenging the Legislature’s long-claimed exemption to the public-records act, which allows for records like elected officials’ emails and text messages to be disclosed.

After public outcry, Inslee vetoed the bill, and the state Supreme Court ultimately ruled that state lawmakers are subject to the public records law.

“I am proud to be one of the few” to vote against that bill, he said.

Carlyle was also known for his yearslong work to seek consensus with House Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups on data-privacy legislation. While the Senate in recent years passed his version of a data-privacy bill, talks have remained stalled among House Democrats.

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