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Tuesday,  April 16 , 2024

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News / Northwest

Inslee reflects on ‘lives changed’ with a pen in a conference room

After 12 years, governor signs his last pieces of legislation

By Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard
Published: April 1, 2024, 7:53pm

Gov. Jay Inslee entered the conference room next to his Capitol office Thursday morning, took a seat at the end of a long rectangular table, and set about to turn legislation into law.

He’d signed thousands of bills seated there over the past dozen years. This would be the last time he’d carry out the ritual here.

Upon finishing, he rose, strode toward his office then paused to address staff members on hand.

“Everybody in this room has done some great work. We have seen lives changed in this room,” Inslee said.

People have better health care, better air quality, better access to colleges, and more time to be with their families due to the legislation enacted there, he said.

“It’s a small room relative to how big the state is but it’s had a big impact,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that have happened.”

On Friday, Inslee affixed his signature to his last law as Washington governor, barring a calamity.

“I will just say that we all love the Evergreen State and long may she thrive,” said Inslee, surrounded by Democratic state lawmakers at a new behavioral health teaching facility at the University of Washington.

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The legislation, Senate Bill 5950, was the supplemental operating budget. It marked the 373rd bill he signed coming out the 2024 legislative session and pushed the total to nearly 4,300 bills signed or vetoed by Inslee since his reign as governor began in 2013.

Several lawmakers used the occasion to pay tribute to the outgoing governor.

“I think when historians look back at this time that you have served, they will look with great admiration and pride,” said Rep. Nicole Macri, D-Seattle. “I’ve seen you in my own district talking with unhoused people living in tents, talking with students, talking with our child care workers, talking with our farm workers across the state, and I am just so grateful to you and to Trudi (Inslee) for your leadership and your connection to the people of this state.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, after dispensing with bills, Inslee did have one more item to sign – a proclamation for Eduardo Carrillo of Tumwater, the administration’s designated “bill crier” since 2019.

With a booming voice, Carrillo let those standing in the hallway outside the conference room know what bill the governor was about to sign so they could be ready to file in for a photo and a pen.

“The echo of Eduardo’s voice has become so synonymous with bill numbers,” people notice when he’s not doing it, according to the proclamation.

Inslee isn’t done yet. He’s got nine months left. With the Legislature out until January, no legislation should reach his desk for signing.

But, he joked before leaving the room, “I’ve still got executive orders.”

The Washington State Standard is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news outlet that provides original reporting, analysis and commentary on Washington state government and politics. We seek to keep you informed about Washington’s most pressing issues, the decisions elected leaders are making, how they are spending tax dollars and who is influencing public policy.

We’re part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.