Listen Live
Listen Live

As WA Legislature draws to a close, another lawmaker announces retirement

SHARE NOW

(The Center Square) – As Washington’s 2024 legislative session draws to a close Thursday, state Sen. Lynda Wilson of Vancouver is the latest lawmaker to say it will be her last.

The 63-year-old Republican announced Wednesday that she will not seek another term in Olympia.

“It’s been such an honor to serve the people of our beloved state, particularly my neighbors in southwest Washington,” said Wilson in a news release, “but I am looking forward to having more time to be a mother, grandmother and small-business owner, as I was a decade ago.”

Wilson initially served a term in the House of Representatives before being elected in 2016 to the Senate, then re-elected to a second four-year term in 2020 representing the 17th Legislative District.

“We had one grandchild when I ran for office the first time, now we have six,” Wilson noted. “I’m coming up on being cancer-free for five years. We have a family business that is transitioning into the third generation and I want to be more involved in the process.”

“This week, I voted to pass three good voter initiatives into law,” she continued. “Part of me doesn’t want to go, because there are more things needing to be done, but the other part knows it’s a good time to step away.”

Already this week, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, and Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Karen Keiser, D-Des Moine, both announced they will not be seeking re-election this year. Two Republican House members, Reps. Joel Kretz of Wauconda and J.T. Wilcox of Yelm, also plan to depart after long legislative tenures.

Wilson said her business background was a factor in seeking state office. She was also a staunch defender of law enforcement, military veterans, Second Amendment rights and shooting sports, resulting in recognition that included a welcome into the “Hunters Heritage Hall of Fame” this year.

Of the bills she sponsored, Wilson said one highlight came in 2019 to legalize the color pink in hunter-safety clothing, reflecting both her love of hunting and a recent diagnosis of breast cancer. After undergoing treatment during the session, she became an even stronger advocate for cancer-related policies, leading to passage of a breast-cancer screening bill in 2023, advocating for biomarker testing, and securing millions of dollars in funding for cancer research and support services.

“I congratulate Senator Lynda Wilson on her retirement from the Legislature,” Lt. Gov. Denny Heck said Wednesday. “She has been a principled conservative and has maintained the capacity to work across party lines. I was privileged to work with her at a small credit union in Vancouver 45 years ago, and I have been equally privileged to work together again the last four years. She bravely fought and defeated cancer while continuing to serve, an inspiration to all. I wish her well in her retirement.”

Wilson’s other legislative efforts include the 2020 repeal of sales tax on feminine hygiene products and support for the Tiffany Hill Act to protect domestic violence victims from their abusers, named after a Vancouver mother and former Marine murdered by her estranged husband. This session, Wilson has sponsored Senate Bill 5906, dubbed “One Pill Kills,” to deal with the fentanyl drug crisis. The measure was passed by the Senate and House and goes to the governor’s desk for consideration.

Throughout her decade as a lawmaker, Wilson championed tax relief and a commitment to government accountability, including a multi-year effort during and after the COVID-19 pandemic to limit the governor’s powers and expand the legislature’s oversight authority during a state of emergency. During that time, Wilson was involved in the state operating budget dealing with pandemic-related appropriations.

After the current session adjourns, Wilson plans to meet with district residents to report on the session, then focus on raising awareness regarding three voter initiatives – the state’s capital gains tax, Climate Commitment Act, and long-term care program – that will be on the November ballot.

“My experience as a legislator has been fulfilling, educational, trying, and humbling, all at the same time,” she said. “But I’m not done. I’ve made this decision but will keep going full-tilt until it’s time to hand off to someone else. And you never know after that.”