Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel
 
Date: 3/15/21
 
Today’s Program: Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck
 
Meeting Called to order: by President Sean Paget @ 12:10 pm
 
Invocation led by: Trent Hart
Pledge of Allegiance led by: President Sean Paget
Four Way Test led by: President Sean Paget
 
Guests of Rotarians:
Merritt and Marsha Long were guests of Colleen Gillespie (Merritt is our speaker next week).
Beth Morrison and Pat Carlson were guests of their husbands (Geoff Crooke and Warren Carlson respectively).
 
Announcements: 
Colleen Gillespie reported positively on her garden building efforts last Friday with GRuB. Warren Carlson announced that, going forwards, builds would be on Tuesdays in April and May (two 2 hour shifts available for volunteers).
 
Brian Windrope announced that seniors needing a vaccine and with questions can call Senior Services at 360-586-6181x135 where there is a large team of volunteers getting seniors vaccinated.
 
The Centennial Committee will be meeting at 4pm on Tuesday March 16th. Members were advised to contact Dick or Judy Blinn, or Don Chalmers if interested in attending.  Plans are going full speed ahead for the Centennial celebrations, with the Club looking to get 100% participation in the fundraising to support the efforts. Pledge forms are available on our web page (under the Donate Now button you will find a donor form to download, complete and send in)
 
This month’s Rotary Board meeting has been moved to March 24th at 9am. If interested in participating, please contact President Sean.
 
Next week, as part of our social justice conversation, Merritt Long will be talking about his book “My View from the Back of the Bus.”
 
Program: Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck
Dick Cushing introduced Lieutenant Governor Denny Heck. Dick reminded Rotarians of Denny’s extraordinary 5 terms of service in Congress where he served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Financial Services Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee. Prior to his service in Congress, Denny successfully grew several small businesses in Washington State and, as a strong advocate of open government, cofounded TVW to provide the people of Washington State greater accessibility to their state government. A graduate of Evergreen State College, Denny has now lived in Olympia for 35 years.
 
Denny thanked Dick for the introduction, and gave a shout out to Justice Debra Stevens as the head of the local Gonzaga basketball fan club, congratulating her team on its March Madness seeding. 
 
Denny then talked about his new role of Lieutenant Governor, starting by noting that it is an unusual elected office with one foot in the Administration and one in the Legislature, and that despite its high profile, the position is the lowest paid of all the State wide officials! He paid tribute to Lieutenant Governor Cherberg who served for 32 years (a record in the US), and is seen as the gold standard for how to fill the role.
 
Talking about the role, Denny noted that while the Lieutenant Governor has to be ready to become Governor in case of a vacancy, and becomes Acting Governor when the Governor is out of State, the majority of his or her time is taken by serving as Presiding Officer of Legislature and serving by statute as a member on 10 state boards and commissions.
 
As Presiding Officer of Legislature, the job is to break voting ties should they occur, maintain order, maintain faithful allegiance to rules of Chamber, and set the tone for debate.  Of the state boards and commissions, he serves on, Denny sees the Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations (LCEDIR) as a particularly important body as the State pulls out of pandemic. Based on his experience in DC, he believes that the nation is poised for a strong period of economic growth, and the question remaining is where the State of Washington fits into that.
 
Concluding, Denny said that his priorities as Lieutenant Governor are to preside effectively over the Senate, and to use the platform of LCEDIR to promote economic growth and broadly shared prosperity.
 
Turning to questions from Rotarians, he was first asked to give his perspective on the challenges he saw from his time in Congress. Denny stated that first and foremost he is deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to serve, and that there were many instances where he got to interact with incredible leaders in their fields. However, he thought that the biggest issue is a broken political culture that is currently not sufficiently focused on problem solving.
 
How does he feel the military policies may change under Biden's leadership? Denny believes that President Biden will be a little tougher on adversaries than president Trump, listening to military advisors more. Not aggressive or overly hostile, but clearer and firmer.
 
The Lieutenant Governor was then asked to comment on the federal conversations regarding the major cyberattacks we've experienced. He noted that he had to be very general in his response, but said that we are always fighting the last war and are not close to being on the footing to address this effectively yet; that we have not reoriented priorities enough to reflect modern warfare.
 
Responding to a question about the prospects for Washington State adopting green energy guidelines that would require cleaner fuels and efficiency, Denny noted that for several sessions this has been a priority of Governor Inslee but has got hung up in the Senate previously. However, his sense is that this is more likely than before to get done, but there are still challenges.
 
On the timely issue of daylight savings time, Denny noted that this is actually a more complex debate than most people appreciate, but tends to lean towards getting rid of it.
 
On the weigher topic of the Senate filibuster, Denny said that it was important to stipulate that the Founders never envisioned it, but that the best long-term solutions are those that can be developed in a bipartisan way. Having said that, he noted that the very nature of senate representation puts power in states with small populations and that the filibuster makes it worse. He is deeply bothered by certain States introducing bills to suppress voting and noted that legislation is in process at the Federal level to address this, and if changing the filibuster is needed to pass this then he is all for it.
 
Meeting adjourned at 12:41 pm