Stonier to return as House Floor Leader
Washington House Democrats welcomed new members to its leadership this week, along with some familiar faces. The Democratic caucus held its reorganization meeting Monday, electing seven members to the leadership team and also welcomed 12 new caucus members. Democrats held onto their majority party status after the November general election gave them 58 of the 98 House seats.
Among those elected Monday was 49th District Rep. Monica Jurado Stonier who returns as House Floor Leader. While the role of majority floor leader has traditionally been to organize the floor for debate and determine which bills will come to the floor for a vote, Stonier said that role has changed somewhat in the last few years. Stonier said she has become more of a spokesperson for the Democrats and their positions on specific issues.
“I’ve done a lot of the press conversations in lieu of the speaker or the majority leader if they are unavailable. I don’t feel like that was a primary role of the floor leader before I was elected,” Stonier said in an interview Friday.
Stonier said she feels her most important role is to ensure all voices, especially those dissenting or differing from Democratic positions, are fully heard.
“The minority party has a lot to say and it’s important to sit on the floor and listen,” she said.
Stonier said she expects the Washington Supreme Court’s 2021 decision to strike down the drug possession statute in State v. Blake will be at the center of this year’s legislative priorities.
“Now that the task force has made recommendations from the Blake decision and now that we’re returning, we have to spend a lot of time talking about what sentencing should look like for drug possession and use,” Stonier said.
Also elected to the House leadership was 27th District Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma, who was elected by the caucus a third time to serve as Speaker of the House. The full House will confirm the vote for speaker once the 2023 session convenes.
“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,” Jinkins said in a press release Tuesday. “I want to thank my colleagues for their continued trust and confidence in me. More than ever, our caucus is reflective of the many diverse communities that make up this great state, and that ultimately makes the work we do better.”
West Seattle’s Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon from the 34th District was elected House Majority Leader. Fitzgibbon replaces former speaker Rep. Pat Sullivan, who served as majority leader from 2020 until his resignation from the legislature in October.
Other elected leaders include Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, as Majority Caucus Chair; Rep. Alex Ramel, D-Bellingham, as Majority Whip; Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, as Speaker Pro Tempore; and Rep. Dan Bronoske, D-Lakewood, as Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore.
The 105-day session convenes Jan. 9.
— Shari Phiel
Published Nov. 25