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Stories about Washington

State legislative special elections scheduled in Louisiana, Washington

A new state legislative special election has been added to our list. The special election is for the District 54 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives on July 11, 2020. There is no primary, and the filing deadline was on May 22.

A new state legislative special election has been added to our list. The special election is for the District 38 seat in the Washington State Senate on November 3, 2020. The primary is on August 4, and the filing deadline was on May 15.



Order highlights role of federal agencies in preemption decisions

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)— the federal agency tasked with regulating the transportation of oil and other hazardous materials—issued an order on May 11 that blocked a Washington state law that would have placed restrictions on crude oil transportation beyond those required by federal law.

The Federal Hazardous Materials Transportation Law (HMTA) allows individuals and government entities affected by state or local hazardous materials transportation requirements to apply to the secretary of transportation for a determination of whether federal law preempts those requirements. The secretary of transportation delegated the authority to issue preemption determinations to the PHMSA.

The Washington state law, passed in 2019, set vapor pressure limits on crude oil transported by rail with the goal of minimizing the explosion risk in the event of a train accident.

The attorneys general of oil-producing states North Dakota and Montana applied to the PHMSA to determine whether federal law preempted the Washington state law. They argued (1) that the Washington law was an obstacle to implementing the HMTA and (2) that the Washington law was not substantively similar to the federal law.

The PHMSA held that the Washington state law did not conform to the U.S. Hazardous Materials Regulations and could disrupt nationwide implementation of the HMTA by encouraging other states to set their own vapor pressure requirements. The PHMSA also cited a Sandia National Laboratories study to support its determination that Washington state’s vapor pressure requirement would not reduce the risk of explosions.

Washington state can submit a petition for judicial review of the PHMSA’s order to a federal court of appeals within 60 days. A spokesperson for Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) said that state officials were disappointed in the agency’s determination and were considering their options.

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Legislators appointed to Washington State Senate, House

The Snohomish County Council made a state legislative appointment to each chamber of the Washington State Legislature May 13.

The council appointed June Robinson (D) to represent District 38 in the Washington State Senate, following the resignation of former Sen. John McCoy (D) from the chamber last month. Robinson previously represented the District 38-Position 1 seat in the state House since 2013. She had already declared her candidacy for the special election to fill McCoy’s seat at the time of her appointment. Robinson will serve in the state senate until the certification of the special election results, which take place 21 days after the general election on Nov. 3 The winner will serve the remaining two years of McCoy’s term.

The council filled the House vacancy left by Robinson’s elevation that same day, appointing Emily Wicks to the Position 1 seat in District 38. She will serve the remainder of Robinson’s unexpired term in the house, set to end on January 11, 2021. Wicks has also filed for re-election.

All 98 seats in the Washington House of Representatives are up for election in 2020. Roughly half the seats in the Washing State Senate are up for election this year as well, as senators serve staggered four-year terms. Washington currently has a Democratic state government trifecta, with the Democratic Party holding the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The state has had 14 years of Democratic trifectas and no Republican trifectas since 1992.

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Former Wisconsin state Senate minority leader resigns from legislature

Wisconsin State Senator Jennifer Shilling (D) submitted her resignation from the legislature on May 15, effective immediately. Shilling had previously announced she would not seek another term and did not file to run for re-election.

Shilling said that she was resigning to explore unspecified employment opportunities. Wisconsin state law prohibits legislators and other public officials from holding office while actively pursuing employment that presents a conflict of interest with their government duties.

Shilling served as State Senate Minority Leader from 2015 until last month when she stepped down in anticipation of her departure from the legislature. Senate Democrats selected Janet Bewley as the new minority leader on April 24. Going into the 2020 elections, the Democratic Party holds 13 seats to the Republican Party’s 19 seats in the chamber. The Republican Party has held a majority in the state senate since 2011.

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Candidate filing period for state-level races ends in Washington state

On May 15, the statewide filing deadline passed to run for elected office in Washington state. Candidates filed for the following state-level offices:

State Executive
  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Attorney General
  • Secretary of State
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Commissioner of Public Lands
  • Treasurer
  • Auditor
  • Commissioner of Insurance
State Legislative
  • Washington State Senate (25 seats)
  • Washington House of Representatives (98 seats)
State Judicial
  • Washington Supreme Court (4 seats)
  • Washington Court of Appeals (8 seats)

The primary is scheduled for August 4, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Washington’s statewide filing deadline was the 38th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on May 28 in Vermont.

Washington has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

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Candidate filing period for state-level races to end in Washington

The statewide filing deadline to run for elected office in Washington is on May 15, 2020. Prospective candidates may file for the following state-level offices:

State executive
  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Attorney General
  • Secretary of State
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Commissioner of Public Lands
  • Treasurer
  • Auditor
  • Commissioner of Insurance
State legislative
  • Washington State Senate (25 seats)
  • Washington House of Representatives (98 seats)
State judicial
  • Washington Supreme Court (4 seats)
  • Washington Court of Appeals (8 seats)

The primary is scheduled for August 4, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Washington’s statewide filing deadline is the 38th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on May 28 in Vermont.

Washington has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.



Filing period for congressional candidates to end in Washington state

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Washington is on May 15, 2020. In Washington, prospective candidates may file for all 10 of the state’s U.S. House seats.

The primary is scheduled for August 4, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Washington’s statewide filing deadline is the 38th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on May 28 in Vermont.

Heading into the election, the Democratic Party holds both U.S. Senate seats and seven of the 10 congressional seats from Washington. The U.S. House has 233 Democrats, 196 Republicans, one Libertarian, and five vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

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Washington senator McCoy announces resignation

Washington senator John McCoy (D) announced his retirement and resignation effective April 17, 2020. McCoy is a 17-year Washington legislature veteran and one of the state’s longest-serving Native American legislators.

McCoy’s letter of resignation to the Washington Senate stated, “When I first came to the Legislature in 2003 as a member of the House of Representatives, I was humbled to represent such warm and vibrant people in Everett, Marysville, and Tulalip. Through changes in committees, leadership roles, and even chambers over the course of my legislative career, it was always an immense privilege to represent my neighbors.”

McCoy served in the Washington House of Representatives, representing District 38-Position 1 from 2002 to 2013. He was elected to the state Senate in November 2013 and was re-elected to represent Washington Senate District 38 in 2018. Before joining the Washington legislature McCoy served 20 years in the United States Air Force and as a computer technician for the White House.

The Snohomish County Council will appoint a representative to temporarily fill McCoy’s seat from a list of names submitted by the Democratic Central Committee for Senate District 38. That appointee will serve until the November election. Candidates interested in running to serve the remaining two years of McCoy’s term and being on the ballot in November must file before May 15, 2020.

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