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Governors’ executive orders over the years ?>

Governors’ executive orders over the years


Dixy Lee Ray in 1978

Gov. Dixy Lee Ray issued several executive orders in 1980 that related to the Mount St. Helens eruption. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

They might lack the authority and consensus of legislatively approved state laws, but executive orders are a powerful way that Washington’s governors have made things happen in state government over the years.

Executive orders are formal orders issued by the governor, generally to cabinet agencies statewide, requiring that certain actions be taken. They may have the force and effect of a law. One historic use of these orders came in connected with the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. More recently, Gov. Jay Inslee used executive orders to deal with climate change.

The Washington State Library is a portal you can use to look up past executive orders going back to 1918, linking to Gov. Inslee’s website.

You can view the Executive Orders Archive here. This archive also covers Govs. Chris Gregoire, Gary Locke, Mike Lowry, Booth Gardner, John Spellman, Dixy Lee Ray, Dan Evans, Albert Rosellini, Arthur Langlie, Louis Hart and Ernest Lister.

Evans (1965-77) began what could be called the golden age of executive orders. He had the most executive orders (117) of any governor included in the archive, which is not surprising considering he served three terms. Spellman was also a prolific user of executive orders, issuing 90 in his one term (1981-85) in office. Gardner ranked third with 75 over his two terms (1985-1993) in the Governor’s Mansion. Ray issued 54 in her one term (1977-81).

Washington’s governors haven’t taken the executive order route as often lately. Lowry issued them only (more…)

When Edgar Martinez came to Olympia ?>

When Edgar Martinez came to Olympia

Edgar Martinez and Gov Gregoire 2005

With baseball season under way, we’re remembering the day when one of the most beloved Seattle Mariners of all time visited the Capitol.

Just months after he retired from an 18-year MLB career, all with Seattle, Edgar Martinez came to Olympia on April 6, 2005. While here, he was photographed with Gov. Chris Gregoire in her office and later signing autographs for fans in the front lobby of the Governor’s Office. Both photos are found in the State Archives. Martinez also signed autographs and had his photo taken with legislators and lege staffers who thoroughly enjoyed seeing the two-time American League batting champ up close and in person.

Edgar signing autographs 2005

Martinez, now the Mariners’ hitting coach, was beloved as much for his nice-guy demeanor and funny local TV ads (“It’s a light bat) as he was for his batting prowess.

Classic gov bill-signing photos: Locke and Gregoire ?>

Classic gov bill-signing photos: Locke and Gregoire


(Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives.)

We’ve reached the fifth and final in a series of blog posts featuring classic State Archives photos of Washington governors signing bills into law. Closing it out are Gary Locke and Chris Gregoire.  Locke is featured above at a 2001 bill signing, and Gregoire is shown below in a 2010 photo.

Other governors featured in bill-signing photos are: Clarence Martin and Arthur Langlie; Albert Rosellini and Dan Evans; Dixy Lee Ray and John Spellman; and Booth Gardner and Mike Lowry.


(Photo courtesy Washington State Digital Archives.)

Governors’ bill-signing pens over the years ?>

Governors’ bill-signing pens over the years

For the past couple of weeks, Gov. Jay Inslee has been busy signing bills into law as proud legislators and bill supporters cluster around and watch each pen stroke. As is customary, the governor shakes hands, poses for photos and hands out souvenir  pens with his name on them as a keepsake to be used or framed.

Since it’s “bill-signing season” here in Olympia, here’s a look at the collection of the bill-signing pens used by Washington governors going back six decades. Nearly all of the pens are part of a collection kept by Patrick McDonald in our Executive Office, a former assistant to Gov. John Spellman back in the ’80s. The Gov. Rosellini pen shown below is from the State Archives.  The one gap is Gov. Dan Evans, who signed thousands of bills in his three consecutive terms.

Starting with Gov. Dixy Lee Ray’s pen, white apparently was the “in” color for these pens until Gov. Chris Gregoire went with black, a color choice kept by Gov. Inslee.


Gov. Albert Rosellini’s pen


Gov. Dixy Lee Ray’s pen


Gov. John Spellman’s pen


Gov. Booth Gardner’s pen


Gov. Mike Lowry’s pen


Gov. Gary Locke’s pen


Gov. Chris Gregoire’s pen


Gov. Jay Inslee’s pen





Today’s your Earth Day ?>

Today’s your Earth Day


(Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Since 1970, April 22 has been observed as Earth Day. Over the years, the environment-themed celebration has meant a wide variety of activities geared toward protecting the environment and habitat, as was the case over the weekend and Monday.

The State Archives dug up this 2005 photo showing then-Governor Chris Gregoire and then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson meeting with Olympia-area students who were doing environmental testing and habitat-restoration work at Priest Point Park in Olympia.

After 45 years in public life, Sam Reed bids farewell ?>

After 45 years in public life, Sam Reed bids farewell

Sam speaks to 2013 Senate

(Photo courtesy of  Legislative Support Services Photography)

Secretary of State Sam Reed bade a fond farewell to the people of Washington Tuesday after 45 years in public life, including 35 years as a state and county elected official.

Addressing a joint session of the Legislature, Reed brought along a special reminder of his family’s long connection to Washington politics and government — his grandfather Sam Sumner’s battered leather briefcase.  Exactly 100 years earlier, Sumner, a state GOP chairman and longtime party leader, was sworn in as a state House member, beginning a legacy of public service that would extend to Reed’s career and love of politics and government decades later.

“Politics is, and should be, a noble calling,” Reed said in his well-received remarks.  He added:

“It has been an amazing ride for Margie and me. Nearly a lifetime ago, it seems, we came to Olympia from the apple orchards and the Palouse of Eastern Washington to teach and to serve in government. We stayed to raise our family here and to heed the call the service. On our hardest days, we never regretted that decision.

“My heart is full as this Wenatchee boy reflects on the opportunity to be of service and to work … to make Washington a better, more responsive and just government worthy of her people. Whenever we saw a problem to fix or an opportunity to grasp, we went to work. In our better moments, we worked collaboratively, across the aisle, with common purpose and with civility.”

Among the highlights Reed mentioned were:

  1. Saving the State Library.
  2. Creating the nation’s first ground-up Digital Archives.
  3. Restoring confidence in the elections process after the closest governor’s race in America, fighting for the Top 2 Primary and other reforms and improvements in the elections process.
  4. Ramping up service to job-creating companies.
  5. Honoring our history and promoting a new State Heritage Center on the Capitol Campus to house the Archives and State Library and make public records, books and history accessible to the public.

In closing, Reed said:

“Although I am leaving public life, I am not leaving public service. I expect to be deeply engaged as a volunteer, working and mentoring as a private citizen on my signature issues of civility, bipartisanship and moderation.”

The joint session also heard Gov. Chris Gregoire’s optimistic and sweeping State of the State Address recapping her eight years in office and her thoughts about the future.  The gathering also heard farewell remarks from Attorney General Rob McKenna, who succeeded Gregoire at the helm of the 1,100-member AG staff and who lost to Democrat Jay Inslee for Governor in November.  And outgoing Brian Sonntag, the veteran State Auditor, also gave well-received and emotional farewell comments.  The proceedings were broadcast live and archived by TVW.


Gregoire unveils $34b budget & tax plan ?>

Gregoire unveils $34b budget & tax plan

20120731b_blogGov. Chris Gregoire, in one of her last major acts as governor, has unveiled a $34 billion, two-year budget for state government, along with a tax package devoted largely to upgrading the K-12 budget.

The Democratic governor, leaving office in January after serving eight years, laid out spending priorities for every sector of state government, including schools and colleges, parks, social and health services, prisons, the courts and Legislature, Puget Sound cleanup, and the departments of government.  She also released transportation and construction budgets.

Easily the most controversial aspect of her budget rollout was her prescription of a billion-dollar revenue package, including a wholesale fuel tax and extension of a business tax on selected professional services, a hospital tax and a junk food tax. Reaction from Republican budgetwriters was mostly of the “dead on arrival” variety.

Democratic Gov.-elect Jay Inslee‘s office put out a noncommittal statement. He campaigned against new taxes this year.

The Gregoire budget would continue to squeeze some programs, including the State Library and the Heritage Center account, but would beef up other areas, including employee salaries, Puget Sound cleanup, parks and, most significantly, education. The Legislature and future governors are on notice from the state Supreme Court that the state has not been meeting the state Constitution’s requirement of ample funding of schools.

While it is a lame duck’s budget, it is nonetheless influential, setting the basic parameters of the budget-and-tax deliberations that await when lawmakers convene Jan. 14. Inslee is inaugurated on Jan. 16, and is not expected to build a ground-up budget proposal of his own. If history is a guide, he will present an amended version of Gregoire’s budget, and will have to deal with whether to include new revenue, such as a ballot referendum for education and/or for transportation.

Both houses of the Legislature will offer their own drafts. The House has a Democratic majority. The Senate has a slim Democratic majority of elected senators, but two of their fiscal conservatives, Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, have said they will cross the aisle to form a coalition with the 23 Republicans, seizing control of the upper chamber. Tom would be the new majority leader and Sheldon the president pro tempore.  Democrats on Monday rejected a call for a certain amount of power-sharing and counter-proposed a straight sharing of all leadership and committee posts.

WA Electoral College: All 12 votes for Obama ?>

WA Electoral College: All 12 votes for Obama

Reflecting the winner-take-all nature of the Electoral College system, Washington’s electors on Monday awarded all 12 of the state’s electoral votes to the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

The event, convened by Secretary of State Sam Reed and Gov. Chris Gregoire, went off the clockwork.  The carefully scripted, time-honored process was much like the one taking place in all state capitals.

As flags outside the Capitol stood at half-staff, electors gathered in the State Reception Room and observed a minute of silence in memory of Friday’s school massacre in Connecticut.

Then, with Chair Heather Fralick of Shoreline presiding, the electors signed multiple copies of documents affirming, first, that Obama was their choice for president, and then, that Biden was their pick for vice president. Electors are supposed to reflect their party’s ticket — and indeed there is a law that says so and that imposes a fine on any “faithless elector,” as occurred at least once in the state’s history.

The electors, alternates, families and party officials cheered as the votes were announced.

Reed called it an historic day for the participants. He acknowledged that using the indirect method of the College, rather than the popular vote, remains controversial.  He added:

“The Electoral College is a key step in how America chooses its president and vice president. While it lacks the attention and excitement of last November’s popular election, the Electoral College vote carries the same impact.”

The Democratic governor praised Republican Reed as “one of our finest public servants … who has had a stellar career.”  Both are retiring after long public service careers.  Gregoire added:

“I am honored to bear witness today to the election of President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden. This ceremony, as with Electoral College votes across the country, reflects our dedication to the democratic process and commitment to open and transparent government.”

Each state has a number of electors equal to the number of senators and representatives it has in the U.S. Congress. Of Washington’s 12 presidential electors, one is from each of the state’s 10 congressional districts. Those 10 were selected at congressional district caucuses last May. The two at-large electors were chosen at the state Democratic Party convention in Seattle last June.

The 12 electors were:
1st District: Grifynn Clay of Snohomish;
2nd District: Dave Gossett of Mountlake Terrace;
3rd District: Kathleen Lawrence of Vancouver;
4th District: George Fearing of Kennewick;
5th District: Rick Lloyd of Spokane Valley;
6th District: Gail Kirk of Tacoma;
7th District: Maria Ehsan of Seattle;
8th District: Elizabeth Satiacum of Olympia;
9th District: Georgia Spencer of Seattle; and
10th District: Harvey Brooks of University Place.
At-large electors are Heather Fralick of Shoreline and Alec Stephens of Seattle.

Fralic was chosen by the electors as the presiding officer during the vote.

Dec. 17 was the date for electors to meet in each of the states to cast votes for president and vice president. In all states but two (Maine and Nebraska), the

winner of the popular vote in that state wins all of the electoral votes in that (more…)

Archives treasure #3: Olympics-related photos ?>

Archives treasure #3: Olympics-related photos

(Photos courtesy of Washington State Archives.)

In case you haven’t seen the ads and TV promos, the world’s biggest sports event is coming soon. People throughout the world are getting excited about the 2012 Summer Olympics starting in London in only two weeks.

London might be thousands of miles from our state, but our State Archives has a small collection of  photos related to the Olympics that will remind us that Washington has been touched (literally) by the Olympic flame. The 1996 photo above shows Gov. Mike Lowry holding the Olympic torch while two people (who we believe were part of the relay team that carried the torch through Washington that year) stand by. Below is a 2006 photo showing Gov. Gregoire with six Washington athletes who competed earlier that year in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy: Apolo Anton Ohno (speed skating), Kelley Stephens (hockey), Scott Macartney (alpine skiing), Christian Niccum (luge), Kristine Holzer (Nordic skiing) and Sarah Konrad (cross country and biathlon). BTW, this is not the order in how they appear in the photo, as Ohno is fourth from the left.

These photos are the third and final Archives treasure for July. On Monday, we’ll start an online poll allowing you and others to choose your favorite for the month.


`The race is on’: WA primaries next up ?>

`The race is on’: WA primaries next up

Washington’s campaign season is officially underway, with hundreds of candidates signed up for 364 offices, from the U.S. Senate and statewide offices to key races that will determine control of the state Legislature and the future of 10 congressional districts.

Secretary of State Sam Reed said he was pleased with the remarkable rush of interest in state and local office, given the difficult problems facing Washington state and the sometimes harsh nature of modern campaigning and the unpredictable influence of powerful independent interest groups.

Reed said it may be a record for turnover of statewide, congressional and legislative offices. He predicted heavy voter interest in the upcoming campaigns and elections.

Last week was Filing Week at the State Elections Division and county election offices. Many candidates filed online, and others showed up in person for the time-honored ritual of rallying with supporters and using the official filing as an opportunity to try out campaign messages and fundraising. Monday was the final day for candidates to withdraw; the final list of candidates will be official on Tuesday.

Next stop is the Top 2 Primary.

Under the 2004 citizen initiative that created the new system, the two most popular candidates for each office will advance to the General Election, without regard to party label.  Candidates designated their party preference last week, most selecting traditional Republican or Democratic Party as their preference. Some designated no party preference or listed a preference for a “party”  that doesn’t exist at all, Independent GOP or (R) Hope&Change or Democratic-Repub Party.

The party preference doesn’t mean the party has endorsed or recognized the candidate. The Primary is a winnowing process, not a nominating process. No party is guaranteed a runoff spot; indeed some districts will have finalists from the same party preference.

Primary ballots go out by July 20, with a postmark or dropoff box return deadline of Aug. 7. The General Elections deadline is Nov. 6.

Large numbers of candidates lined up for most of the marquee races, although many races have clear frontrunners for the two runoff spots.  Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna have largely had the gubernatorial field to themselves for the past year.  Democratic incumbent Chris Gregoire is stepping down after eight years in office.  Three other statewide offices are guaranteed to turn over: Attorney General, Secretary of State, and Auditor.

Treasurer Jim McIntire, a Democrat, drew no opposition from either party, a rarity.  Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and Republican state Sen. Michael Baumgartner, were leaders among the crowd filing for the Senate seat.

Congressional races firmed up,  including a sudden gusher of candidates who signed up for a one-month term remaining on Inslee’s term in the 1st District.  Democratic State Chairman Dwight Pelz had hoped to clear the field for a temporary seatholder, Snohomish County Council Chairman Brian Sullivan, but Darcy Burner and other candidates jumped in on Friday.  Sullivan (more…)