Sen. Joe Fain (R-Auburn) hosted the Leadership Institute of South Puget Sound for a behind-the-scenes tour at the state Capitol on Wednesday.
Fain organized information sessions, a speaking panel and tour for 23 current and future business and government leaders from South King County. This is the second year Fain has hosted and organized a day at the Capitol for the Leadership Institute.
"I was pleased to take a group with passion and interest in our community through the lawmaking process," Fain said. "Knowing about state government will help them become more involved and effective when working on behalf of residents and businesses in South King County."
During the morning session Fain took the group on a walking tour to key locations on the Capitol campus, while sharing his insights as a state legislator. He also brought in staff members from the Senate's policy office, the House of Representatives' senior staff counsel, the Lieutenant Governor's office and the code reviser's office that prepares legislation, as well as a representative of the advocacy field, to explain their roles in the process.
The tour stops included a committee meeting room, where bills are initially heard and vetted; a caucus meeting room; the governor's office, where bills are signed into law; and ultimately, the floor of the Senate chamber. There Fain, the Senate's incoming Majority Floor Leader, discussed floor debate, voting and the process of passing bills from the Senate to the House of Representatives and vice versa.
"Hosting the Institute's class has become a real high point for me each year," Fain said. "I hope more individuals and organizations will reach out and become more informed and involved in their state and local governments."
The afternoon session featured state-level leaders who shared their professional roles and approaches to leadership. Speakers included outgoing Secretary of State Sam Reed and State Auditor Brian Sonntag, as well as Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste.
The Leadership Institute of South Puget Sound is administered by chambers of commerce from Auburn, Kent, Covington, Maple Valley, Black Diamond, and Southwest King County. Enrollees focus on leadership, communications and a variety of policy areas within the greater context of the South Puget Sound community.
"There's a major difference in what you can learn about how government operates from a classroom and hearing it directly from our leaders in Olympia," said Nancy Wyatt, president and chief executive officer of the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce. "It's incredibly important for our future leaders to understand how to engage with their representatives."
"Few people really do see the inner workings of the legislative process and I was privileged to have this opportunity," said Amy Jahn, a student with the institute. "The legislators and staff people are so warm, welcoming, and genuinely want to hear from us."