by Olivia Burley
On Monday, February 17 – aptly Presidents’ Day, the Junior League of Seattle hosted Capitol Day at the State Capitol in Olympia. Joined by members of the Junior League chapters in Olympia, Tacoma, and Yakima, the event focused on providing an overview of the state legislative process, meeting key players, and learning how we can get involved – as legislators and as advocates of the causes that are important to us.
The JLS Capitol Day Committee organized a jam-packed day for attendees. We kicked off with breakfast and then met with Noah Ullman, Executive Assistant to Senator Joe Fain, who explained how the State legislative process works. It was a busy day on the floors of the House and Senate as bills were being presented.
Senator Joe Fain met with us amid the hustle and bustle in the gallery wings. Fain represents the 47th Legislative District (Auburn, Kent, Covington, and Renton) and is the Senate majority floor leader. He urged JLS members to bring our community activism to Olympia by running for office and shared with us the behind the scenes narrative that colors the legislative process.
From there, we moved to the Senate gallery and observed the action on the floor before taking a tour of the Capitol. Our guide shared the interesting history of the Capitol and Washington State and made each of us feel like a distinguished visitor.
Following our tour, we met in Governor Jay Inslee’s conference room with Kelly Ogilvie, Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor. Ogilvie gave an overview of some of the issues most important on the Governor’s agenda: education, increasing the minimum wage, and creating jobs. Then, he opened the floor to a discussion with Junior League members. Arts funding, education, and access to nutritional food were some of the topics touched on in the conversation.
Representative Cyrus Habib represents the 48th Legislative District (Redmond, Kirkland, Bellevue, Clyde Hill, Hunts Point, Yarrow Point, and Medina) and met with our group over lunch. He answered questions moderated by JLS member McKinley Smith. Habib shared his focus on issues that affect women in Washington State, namely pay equity and reproductive rights, and answered questions.
Following the formal agenda of our day, Capitol Day attendees were given time to visit their district representatives. While most were busy on the floor or in meetings when we stopped by, their staff welcomed us and encouraged follow-up conversations.
Capitol Day was a wonderful introduction to the State legislative process. Everyone we met was delighted to have community interest and engagement and encouraged the women of the Junior League to make their voices heard.