Lieutenant Governor – Marko Liias

Legislative Questionnaire

Candidate Information

  • Candidate Name: Marko Liias
  • Position Sought: Lieutenant Governor (Non-incumbent)
  • Home Legislative District: 21st Legislative District
  • Democrat: Yes

Campaign Information

Part I – Candidate Background

1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience.

I’m a lifelong Washingtonian from a middle-class immigrant family, the first in my family to go to college at Georgetown University before going on to earn my MPA from University of Washington, a college professor at Everett Community College, and a proud union member with AFT Everett Higher Education Local 1873. Right out of college I started my own business to be a better part of my community and paired that with public service starting with my first election to the Mukilteo City Council. I followed my time at the city with representing the people of the 21st District first in the State House of Representatives, and for the last 6 years in the State Senate.

2. What prompted you to run for this office? What are your campaign’s most important themes, issues, or priorities (three to five)?

My story, growing up in a middle-class family in a safe neighborhood with great schools and caring teachers, where everything seemed possible if you worked hard, is what I hope for every Washingtonian. As the first Millennial elected to state office, I have been driven by a relentless desire to make sure that the voices of future generations are heard in the decisions we make today – that is why I helped lead the movement to ban coal power in our state and transition to a clean energy future. My passion for public service was sparked by the people who helped me reach my potential and the community I loved so much that I wanted to give back. Every day I walk into the Capitol building, that foundation is what inspires me to keep going. And that is why I am running for Lt. Governor.

The Lt. Governor presides over the State Senate, but also serves as number two in the Executive Branch, all while running a small state agency. As Lt. Governor, I will build on the strong foundation that Lt. Governor Habib has set down expanding opportunities through higher education, international partnerships and progressive leadership in the Senate. This unique combination of responsibilities makes it an ideal role to continue my work building a green economy that works for everyone, expanding equitable access to education and opportunity, and ensuring that our state is a model for social justice and inclusion. I completely agree with Governor Inslee that climate inaction is the same as climate denial, we cannot shirk our responsibilities in this critical moment. I will use my leadership role in the Senate to insist on bold climate action that recognizes the magnitude of the crisis we face.

In the Senate, I have focused on growing green jobs in every corner of our state, which I believe is critical to ensuring a just transition to our carbon-free future. I sponsored legislation to transition our state off coal-fired power and to authorize the largest expansion of mass transit in history through ST3; this massive undertaking will create tens of thousands of family-wage construction jobs for decades to come. I have helped pass new building codes to encourage the use of carbon-sequestering mass timber, and also championed investments in pollinator health and soil research, so that our agricultural economy in this state is both competitive and sustainable. As Lt. Governor, I will never stop fighting for green jobs and opportunity in every ZIP code in Washington. As chair of the Senate Rules Committee and as President of the Senate, I will use my full authority to ensure that my colleagues take action to address this existential threat to our state and our shared human community.

3. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?

So far, my campaign has been endorsed by incumbent Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib, 12 current state senators, 14 current and former state representatives, a coalition of community leaders including King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, mayors, city councilmembers, and others totaling up to over 50 early endorsers. In addition, I am proud to have hundreds of small donors supporting our growing campaign as well. We are growing organizational support, and have received the endorsement of the Washington Federation of State Employees, representing tens of thousands of incredible public servants. I have also been endorsed by the National LGBTQ Victory Fund and would be the first LGBTQ person to hold statewide executive office in Washington.

Due to “stay at home” orders, we have shifted to a completely digital campaign, relying on an active social media presence that includes live discussions with people in communities across our state. We are ambitiously fundraising, relying on a people-powered campaign to reach $400,000 by the August primary and an additional $500,000 to finish the general election strong.

Part II – Local and State Issues

1. Do you support Initiative Measure No. 940 (“De-escalate Washington,” requiring, among other things, that law enforcement officers be required to obtain violence de-escalation and mental health training, so that officers will have greater skills to resolve conflicts without the use of physical or deadly force)?


2. Do you support the right of public workers, excluding military, to bargain and strike?


I was raised in a union household and am a proud AFT member myself. Collective bargaining rights achieved through strikes and union representation are the foundation of our middle class.

3. Would you support a statewide “Ban the Box” law, prohibiting employers from asking about job applicants’ criminal history until after an initial screening or interview?


4. Do you support legislation that reimburses the cost of reproductive health care services, such as SB 6105, the Reproductive Health Access for All Act?


I was a proud co-sponsor to this legislation and the Reproductive Parity Act and legislation that passed the following year further expanding access. I also have an A rating from NARAL Pro Choice Washington

5. Would you support an automatic voter registration act such as HB 2595 (Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2018), streamlining procedures in order to automatically register citizens to vote?


Not only was a cosponsor to the Senate version of that legislation, I also passed the VOTE Act in the 2020 legislative session, expanding access to voting to our youngest voters and promoting vote centers on college campuses.

6. Would you support a bill that would enable the state of WA to create a single health financing entity to provide health care financing for all Washington residents, independent from employment, such as the WA Apple Care Trust?


In the Senate, I am a proud cosponsor of legislation to chart the path to universal single-payer healthcare in Washington state. I am also the only person in this race who has endorsed the Whole Washington initiative to implement a universal healthcare system in Washington. I also have supported and voted for a state public option, one of the strongest prescription drug transparency laws in the nation, as well as urgent action to bring down insulin costs for those who rely on life-saving medication so we can bridge the gap while health officials in our state make the road map to stronger universal access. As Lt. Governor, while health care policy is not one of the primary responsibilities of the role, I will use my platform and position as Chair of the Senate Rules Committee to move progressive, accessible healthcare legislation through the process and make sure that universal healthcare remains a high priority.

Part III – Free Response

1. Why are you running as a Democrat? What aspects of the Democratic platform most resonate with you?

In the face of gridlock in Washington DC, our state has made progress these last few years. We have funded our schools, expanded access to college, taken bold action to transition to a clean energy economy, and worked to make sure that everyone — white, Black and brown — has access to opportunity. We have shown that a growing economy, clean air and water, and rising wages and benefits can go hand-in-hand. I know that we can accomplish so much more in the years to come for Washington. I know that we can harness the spirit of innovation that has led our state to build the best airplanes, write the best software, and grow crops that feed the world to meet the challenges we face today.

I am a lifelong Washingtonian, a proud union member, and my life story has been shaped by the incredible accomplishments of the labor movement. Growing up, my life was transformed by our public schools, both in the education I received and the health care benefits my family relied on through my mom’s union job as a school lunch lady. As a lawmaker, I have been a reliable champion for Washington’s working families. I have sponsored key legislation to protect workers from predatory non-competition agreements, I was on the negotiating team that passed the most progressive paid family and medical leave program in the nation, and I proudly helped pass Sound Transit 3 to create tens of thousands of union jobs in construction for decades to come. I have also cosponsored, voted for, and used my leadership role to advocate for hundreds of bills and policies to expand collective bargaining, strengthen worker protections, and improve the lives of working families.

These issues aren’t theoretical to me, they go to the core of who I am and why I serve. My story, growing up in a middle class family in a safe neighborhood with great schools and caring teachers, where everything seemed possible if you worked hard, is what I hope for every Washingtonian. As our next Lt. Governor, I know that the future of our economy will depend on the investments we make in our workers and our education system, and the work we do to strengthen the international ties that are the lifeblood of our job market.

2. In the past, many Democrat-sponsored bills have died in the Republican-controlled Senate. Please list three failed bills from the past legislative session that you will champion when elected.

Since the Democrats retook the majority in 2018, I am proud of the legislation that I have personally been responsible for passing. I lead the fight to ban so-called “conversion therapy” here in Washington state. This dehumanizing practice causes deep harm and trauma to LGBTQ+ people and has been condemned by medical associations in the U.S. and around the world. This is one of my proudest accomplishments of my career and embodies the acceptance and love of the Democratic party.

This year, I also led the charge to pass the Washington VOTE Act, which expands voting opportunities for our youngest voters. My bill expands automatic voter registration to 16 and 17 year olds, allows 17 year olds to vote in the primary when they will be 18 by the general election, and it creates “Voter Empowerment Centers” at our public four-year colleges and universities, giving 200,000 college students easy access to update their voter registration and print out replacement ballots. After retaking the majority, I also was able to finally pass my Student Loan Bill of Rights, which not only empowers students to take better control of their financial freedoms in college to find the best financing for their degree, but also protects students from predatory and fraudulent loan practices. This is just a handful of the many Democratic accomplishments I have been able to pass in recent years and I look forward to continuing to champion progressive policy as Lt. Governor.

3. What important state and local issues have you worked on (or taken an interest in) that you feel aren’t getting enough attention from elected leaders and the media?

%3. What important state and local issues have you worked on (or taken an interest in) that you feel aren’t getting enough attention from elected leaders and the media?%

4. Do you think Washington public schools are adequately funded? If not, what minimum requirements should be met in an adequately funded public school system? What specific forms of taxation would you support to attain that funding?

I was proud to move the legislation to completely comply with the McCleary decision, investing billions of dollars to raise teacher’s pay, reduce class sizes, and invest in the support and resources our students and families need. But we have to continue to make public education our top priority.

My mom was a school lunch lady, so I know that our schools are full of both teachers and support staff, all focused on the education and well-being of our students. Our school counselors are invaluable to the mental and emotional health of our students, but the resources gap between schools that have access to counselors and those that do not is still too high. I also know that students with special needs are not receiving adequate support to succeed. More investments need to be made so we can fill that gap and give every student the same access to a great public education – a tool we already know will help us recover from the impending recession faster. As Lt. Governor, I will be a loud and clear voice that austerity doesn’t work and new progressive revenue must be identified, like capital gains or closing the loopholes on taxes for the highest earners, to continue these critical investments and services for our children.

5. What are some obstacles inherent in proposed legislative solutions to climate change? How would you approach those obstacles in order to best overcome or minimize any negative effects?

Climate change poses an existential threat to our survival on this planet. This is a moment for our innovative Washington spirit to help lead the world to find solutions that can grow our economy, create jobs throughout our state, and address this pressing threat. I believe that we must place a price on carbon emissions to create market pressure to reduce our investments. I support many possible mechanisms to achieve this, from a clean fuels standard to a cap and invest program to a carbon tax. These changes have gained strong momentum in the legislature but are ultimately held up by 1 or 2 moderate legislators. However, we have been able to implement much of Governor Inslee’s climate agenda and are continuing a record of electing progressive, climate conscious people to the legislature to push towards one of these solutions. Whichever pathway we select, we must ensure that there are strong worker protections, like those included in the Clean Energy Transformation Act in 2019. I have also supported every action we have taken in recent years, voting for CETA, a ban on superpollutant HFCs, new building and appliance efficiency standards, the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standard, and updated greenhouse gas reduction targets. As Lt. Governor, I will focus on identifying win-win opportunities to create jobs and new industries in areas like pumped hydro storage, creation of new clean hydrogen fuel manufacturing, and expansion of our use of sustainable mass timber products. The more we innovate, the better equipped we will be to reach our goals.

6. What are some obstacles inherent in proposed approaches to tax reform in Washington State? How would you approach those obstacles in order to best overcome or minimize any negative effects?

I have been a longtime supporter of more equitable tax structures and I voted for every single progressive tax structure change that the legislature put forward when we crafted our finance package in 2019. In that package, we closed loopholes on corporate taxes, we lowered real estate taxes for low and middle income families while raising it for the multibillion dollar corporations building skyscrapers in Seattle, and many other progressive changes. While we did not get every win on moving us towards a more balanced tax structure, it has set a precedent that I hope we are able to continue with so we can get smart, progressive revenue sources like a capital gains tax.

This progress is more important than ever as we recover from COVID-19. We cannot go back to the austerity measures of the Gregoire era that harmed our most vulnerable, and must instead raise new, progressive revenue so we can bounce back faster and stronger.

7. Do you support the voter-approved call for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision (I-735), and if so, how do you propose to work toward that goal?

I am in support of a constitutional amendment to implement meaningful and fair campaign finance reform. Citizen’s United was a truly unfortunate decision that puts too much power in the hands of wealthy corporations. We need our democracy to be working directly for us, the people, not big banks and corporate interests and the fastest way we can do that is to get big money out of politics.

By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.

Printed Name: Marko Liias

Date: 05/07/2020

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