Historic Washington House Speaker sworn-in, faces challenges

VIDEO: State legislature gets to work on their 2020 session

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Many lawmakers marched into the first day of the Washington State Legislature’s session wearing white to commemorate the suffragettes -- the women who battled for the right to vote.

And they got to witness history, the swearing in of the first woman to be House Speaker in Washington State.

Tacoma Democrat Laurie Jenkins also becomes the first out lesbian to lead the chamber.

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“Barriers do not come down by themselves. I stand here today on the shoulders of many, many, who came before me.”

Beyond transportation and homelessness, one of her challenges is Republican Rep. Matt Shea, described in an investigative report commissioned by the legislature as a “domestic terrorist.”

Jenkins would like to expel him from the legislature but would need at least 10 Republican votes to accomplish that.

Republicans have suspended Shea from their caucus, but they won't call for his expulsion.

“Whether or not you are in this chamber is up to the voters and this is always the best choice,” said House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox.

Shea’s been moved to a seat in the farthest back row of the House chamber.

Shea was in leadership, and had a prime office. Now he has a basement office in a former conference room.

The investigators’ report says Shea was involved in planning the armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife refuge in Oregon, putting Law enforcement officers at risk.

Shea asked us to schedule an interview through his assistant. We did but he canceled.

He did have supporters at a rally for $30 car tabs on the Capitol steps.

Asked how she could display a sign proclaiming, “stand with Matt Shea,” Peggy Hutt of the Tacoma Narrows Tea Party responded,: “It's an accusation. Right now it's an assumption. There's been no proven anything.

Wilcox indicated he’s open to the idea of a hearing on Shea’s activities that would give him a chance to tell his side.