Frank Chopp will relinquish speaker's gavel, press ahead with causes

Seattle Democrat Frank Chopp has announced that next year will be his last as Speaker of the House. He’ll give up the gavel after 20 years.

In his final year as speaker, Chopp says he'll work on the issues he's fought to advance -- housing, education and mental health.

Chopp expects Democrats will again propose a Capital Gains tax on the wealthy-- while lowering taxes on middle and working class who now pay a greater share of the tax burden.

“I think there's great interest in that because a lot of people are concerned about their property taxes. Also, there's a proposal to fund the working families tax credit on the sales tax for lower income people,” Chopp said at a news conference today.

Republican J.T. Wilcox is the newly elected minority leader in the House.

“I think we are not going to be very friendly to new taxes. We are seeing historic increases in revenues with the tax system that we've got,” he said in an interview.

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Not even in exchange for a tax break.

“You know I think most of the voters are not really full of trust that if the Legislature raises taxes here, they're going to provide relief on the other side,” said Wilcox

He may oppose Chopp on policies but praises his approach to leadership.

“He's one of the last people that kind of links to the past where politicians did have a statewide kind of perspective and I've always respected that about Frank.”

He recently hosted Chopp at the Wilcox family farm near Yelm -- which has supplied western Washington markets for five generations.

“I went to his farm right after he got elected and spent about three hours with he and his family in the chicken coops there and all that. He is really great,” Chopp said.

While Chopp will be giving up the speaker’s gavel, he'll stay in the Legislature to work on crucial issues.

“Mental health needs to have a different approach in terms of how it is structured and also greater funding in certain areas.”