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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Social Issues In Inaugural Speech Rub Republicans Wrong Way

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington’s new governor touched a nerve with some Republicans in his inaugural address. On the topic of abortion Democrat Jay Inslee called on the legislature to pass the so-called Reproductive Parity Act. It would require health insurers that cover maternity services to also pay for abortions.

Inslee said, "Washington women need the freedom and privacy” to make their own health care decisions.

That’s why I look forward to the Legislature sending me the Reproductive Parity Act to my desk, which I will sign. Let’s get this done."

That line brought many Democrats to their feet, but several Republicans were displeased. At a news conference after the speech, House Republican leader Richard DeBolt criticized the new governor.

“It’s funny that he would take a day of unification and try to make it a politically dividing event.”

The Reproductive Parity Act does have a Republican cosponsor in the Washington Senate. However, leaders of the new majority coalition in the Senate have said they want to avoid controversial social issues this session in favor of a focus on the budget and education.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."