Olympia- In a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee, Rep. Jeff Morris stated “The greatest professional honor I have had is serving the community I grew up in the State Legislature. I have accepted a position with one of the largest companies in the world developing the best smart grid, decarbonization and artificial intelligence technologies. I will not be able to take time away from this position to serve in our part-time citizen legislature this coming January. After twenty-three years of service, I have made the decision to step down from my House of Representatives seat effective January 6th, 2020.”
Morris made his mark out of the gate in in 1997, when he went from being sworn into office to being thrown into a fight against the State Ferry system, joining with Anacortes to save the Anacortes to Sidney, BC ferry run. Working first with Anacortes Mayor Dean Maxwell, then Rep. Steve Van Luven, and then Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen they were able to save this important economic link.
Morris noted during that same term he worked with Rep. Barry Sehlin to change the wetland mitigation laws that allowed the wonderful wetlands to be developed around the Skagit County Airport.
Morris said, “I learned about working across party lines to find solutions from my years working for Congressman Al Swift in the Washington State congressional delegation. That experience has served the 40th District well.”
While Co-Majority floor leader during the 49-49 tie in the house, Morris worked with Republicans and Democrats in minute detail to pass what was then called the best net-metering law in the country. A few years later he led the creation of the first laws in the nation that required fossil fuel based electric generation to mitigate part of their lifetime emissions, and requiring utilities to consider carbon risk in life cycle Integrated Resource Planning processes. These are two laws that have had the most significant impacts on carbon reduction but are not easily understood in political terms.
Morris worked with Sen. Harriet Spanel, Rep. Dave Quall, and the community to save the Blanchard Mountain forest, protect the Lake Whatcom watershed, and protect nature of all types in the San Juan Islands.
In the last several years Morris was the sole sponsor of a bill that found a permanent funding source for Washington State Ferries. While modest, it provided the revenue to build the remainder of the Olympic class ferries. Updating the 2005 IRP law in 2013 to include technologies that can take capacity off the electricity grid (like energy storage), and this past year passing the distributed resource planning framework, will let data and science be clear on the most cost effective path to decarbonization. This will keep rates low for constituents regardless of what the easiest political solutions are.
Morris said, “I have only been allowed to work on these issues because of the people of the 40th District. They raised, educated, supported, and elected me to represent them in Olympia. My new position – while covering all of North America – allows me to still live in the place I have always called home. I will continue to work to serve the community that has given so much to a local boy of mixed race and very modest means.”
He is currently the longest serving legislator of first nations decent in WA. He served as Speaker Pro-Tem, floor leader, and chair of various committees and task forces during his 23 years of State Service.