A trip to Washington, D.C., marijuana legalization and meetings with key Democratic constituencies kept Washington Governor Jay Inslee occupied during his first two weeks in office.
That’s according to copies of Inslee’s schedule released following a public disclosure request. The schedule offers a window into the new governor’s priorities and work habits as he launches his first term in office.
Between his inauguration on January 16 and February 1st, the Democratic governor had at least five meetings to discuss the implementation of Initiative 502, the voter-approved measure to legalize and regulate the production and sale of marijuana for recreational use in Washington. The meetings included a well publicized one with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson also attended.
However, that same day, Inslee and Ferguson also attended a previously undisclosed lunch at the White House with David Agnew, President Obama’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Inslee’s office says the White House meeting was introductory in nature, but marijuana legalization and Initiative 502 were discussed.
While in D.C., Inslee and his wife Trudi attended the inauguration of President Obama and other inaugural events, including a reception at the residence of Vice President Joe Biden.
Back home, Inslee carved out time to meet with or attend events sponsored by key supporters and funders of his campaign and the Democratic Party including: the Washington Federation of State Employees, the Washington State Labor Council, environmental advocates, and the Washington Association of Justice, the state’s largest trial lawyers group.
Inslee spokeswoman Jaime Smith says some of those meetings were designed to “get some policy feedback” as the Governor puts together his legislative agenda. Smith notes Inslee also recently spoke to the Association of Washington Business.
During Inslee’s first weeks in office, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was grounded worldwide because of battery problems. But it was an impending strike vote that appears to have prompted a call with Boeing engineers’ union president Tom McCarthy. The call came just two days before SPEEA members were scheduled to vote on whether to authorize a strike. That vote was later delayed. There is no indication from the schedule that Inslee also spoke with Boeing management regarding the status of labor negotiations. However, Smith says the Governor has been in touch with Boeing officials regarding the 787.
In addition to marijuana legalization, Inslee was briefed during his first days in office on the controversial topic of proposed coal export terminals. Inslee also met with his staff regarding TransAlta, a Canadian energy company that operates the largest of two remaining coal-fired power plants in the Northwest.
Rounding out the new governor’s schedule during his first 17 days in office were events like: a short photo-op with a campaign contributor, candidate interviews for Secretary of Transportation, cabinet and staff meetings, budget and legislative agenda briefings, and meetings with Senate and House leaders.
From a glance at the schedule, one might assume Inslee was the new governor of Oregon. His calendar entries include five appointments or phone calls with members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation - including a meeting with Sen. Jeff Merkley to discuss the new Columbia River Crossing. The schedule shows only one official meeting with a member of the Washington delegation, Senator Maria Cantwell. In fact, while in Washington, D.C. for the President’s inauguration, Inslee was scheduled to have breakfast not with the Washington delegation, but with a group of Congressmen he considers “friends.” Inslee served seven terms in Congress before resigning to run for governor.
Inslee still has to hire several cabinet members, release his full legislative agenda and produce a proposed state budget. Even so, generally, the new governor’s day began at 8am and wrapped up by 5 or 6pm, in time for him to exercise at the Senate gym. The schedule shows Inslee’s first three weekends were mostly unscheduled and included a trip home to Bainbridge Island for one weekend. In Olympia, Inslee and his wife live in the Governor’s Residence on the Capitol campus.
Spokeswoman Smith anticipates “the hours will definitely be extended” as the 105-day legislative session wears on and the new governor gets into budget writing mode. Smith says Inslee is currently finalizing a package of jobs-related legislative measures that he will be introducing soon.