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Washington’s gubernatorial transition in 2013

On Nov. 6, 2012, former Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., defeated state Attorney General Rob McKenna in the gubernatorial election to succeed Gov. Chris Gregoire. Inslee will be sworn into office on Jan. 16, 2013.

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inslee5OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee, a day after an inaugural address that critics said lacked specifics, gave a much fuller picture Thursday of where he intends to take the state over the next four years.

“It is not in the interest of health or safety or personal fulfillment to have to have ammunition capacity of 30 or 100 rounds,” Inslee said at this first news conference, referring to gun legislation to reduce violence.

In addition to favoring a limit on ammunition magazines, Inslee reiterated his support of the federal assault-weapons ban he voted for as a member of Congress in 1994. Recognizing the passion around the issue, he said his approach with state legislators will be to nudge more than push.

“I hope to bring a listening attitude to this, to listen to my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans,” he said.

Inslee, a Democrat, also gave a much clearer picture about where he stands on taxes to shore up the state’s deep budget hole. Inslee pledged during the campaign not to raise taxes.

The governor, however, he didn’t rule out continuing two taxes that are set to expire in June, one on beer and one on business services, including lawyers, doctors, and accountants.

“I do not believe that we would be increasing taxes if we extend the existing tax rates in that regard,” Inslee said. “I’m not proposing or advocating to do that today, but I want to make sure that I allow the legislators room to discuss this potential.”

Finally, the governor made clear that he will do all he can to promote clean energy, including taking a hard look at the plan to allow coal trains through the state for coal export to China.

“Every single ton of coal that’s burned anywhere on the planet Earth in some ways ends up in Puget Sound,” he said. “This is not just about the polar bears, it is about business opportunities in our state that are today being damaged.”

Inslee will, no doubt, face opposition on all these issues, especially policies around climate change.

“You don’t have agreement from all the scientists in the world that says that this is happening,” said state Rep. Richard DeBolt of Chehalis, the House Republican leader. “We do support the concept of a greener government, but one of the things we have to understand is that the science is not exact and it’s not over.”

The governor and Legislature have until the session ends in April to find some kind of common ground on these issues.

inslee1OLYMPIA — In just two weeks Gov.-elect Jay Inslee will take office, but he has yet to name any members of his 26-person Cabinet. In fact, his transition team has hired a headhunting firm to help him fill the positions.

Some are starting to wonder whether Inslee will be ready when he takes office on Jan. 16.  However, Inslee’s office said Wednesday there’s nothing to worry about.

“There will be an Inslee administration up and running on the first day,” said Sterling Clifford, communications director for the governor-elect’s transition team. “We could have named everyone the day after the election and those people still couldn’t do anything until the 16th,” he said. “Whether they are named on the 12th of December or the 12th of January, they start the same day.”

Some eyebrows were raised when the governor-elect hired a headhunting firm to help fill the vacancies. Indeed, a person can go online and see the postings. Interested in being secretary of transportation? There’s a web application to fill out for that job.

The Inslee team said it is looking far and wide for Cabinet members.

“The best way to do that is to bring in an expert who has reach into a number of fields and whose whole focus is identifying a broad range of candidates” Clifford said.

Though Inslee’s predecessor is a Democrat as well, the governor-elect has asked for the resignation of all of Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Cabinet secretaries.

Inslee said he may rehire some of them, but not after considering other people for the job. “We’re viewing this transition period as an opportunity to really get the right team in place from the beginning, so that we’re not faced with significant staff turnover a year, two years into the Inslee administration,” Clifford said.

Clifford acknowledged that not all Cabinet positions will be filled by Jan. 16.  In some cases, current Cabinet secretaries will stay on in an acting capacity until a permanent replacement can be found.

“There will be some familiar faces for a while and there will be a lot of changes as well,” he said.