The three-member board of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) meets weekly in caucus to discuss current issues and receive invited briefings from agency staff.
HB 1237, Member Hauge was re-appointed to the Board, and a conversation with the US Attorney for the Western District of Washington.
Here are some observations from the January 29th WSLCB Board Caucus.
My top 3 takeaways:
- Board Chair Jane Rushford thanked Member Russ Hauge for testifying on behalf of the Board at the January 28th House Commerce and Gaming Committee Public Hearing (audio – 6m).
- Hauge began describing his testimony against HB 1237 and Rushford clarified she had watched the hearing.
- In the hallway after the hearing, Hauge said he had a conversation with Vicki Christophersen, Executive Director and Lobbyist for Washington CannaBusiness Association (WACA), “…and she was quite upset.”
- Hauge: “Apparently she thought that this was all negotiated and some kind of done deal.”
- Hauge: “I asked her when this was worked out and she mentioned the trip back to Washington D.C. some months ago that I attended. I assured her I did not remember anything that would constitute Board agreement to the proposals that she put forward.”
- Hauge claimed not to be present at a “part of the function” during which Christophersen claimed a discussion had taken place.
- Hauge noted “residual skepticism” about the agency’s enforcement efforts at the legislature.
- Hauge: “Basically they were ready to believe pretty much every bad story that they heard about our enforcement people.”
- Rushford felt “consistency” of education and enforcement was a common theme she had been hearing.
- Hauge said, “there were a lot of good ideas about how to adjust our enforcement practices.”
- But Hauge’s main takeaway was that the LCB “should not let this rulemaking drag on” to proactively address concerns before the close of the legislative session. Chair Rushford echoed this sentiment saying she would like to keep the rulemaking “a top priority and get it moving more aggressively.”
- The Board will hear a quarterly rules update at next week’s Board Caucus (February 5th).
- On Monday, Governor Jay Inslee re-appointed Russell Hauge to the WSLCB for a full term on the Board, a six year commitment ending in 2025 (audio – 1m).
- Chair Rushford congratulated Member Hauge for his third consecutive appointment to the Liquor and Cannabis Board. Member Hauge’s response implied it may not be a done deal: “Oh, well, I hope it’s happened. If certain lobbyists have anything to say about it, [the re-appointment] will be withdrawn post-haste. But maybe they’ll get over it.” Rushford concluded: “I think that’s unlikely.”
- Members of the Liquor and Cannabis Board have terms of service lasting six years.
- Russell Hauge was first appointed as a member of the Liquor and Cannabis Board in 2015 for a two year term (Feb 1, 2015 through January 15, 2017).
- He was re-appointed in 2017, for two more years (January 17, 2017 through January 15, 2019). That appointment ended on January 15th.
- Hauge’s new term began Monday and is for six years (January 28, 2019 through January 15, 2025).
- The Governor’s specific authority to appoint members of the Liquor and Cannabis Board is spelled out in RCW 66.08.012 (“Creation of board”):
There shall be a board, known as the “Washington state liquor and cannabis board,” consisting of three members, to be appointed by the governor, with the consent of the senate, who shall each be paid an annual salary to be fixed by the governor in accordance with the provisions of RCW 43.03.040. The governor may, in his or her discretion, appoint one of the members as chair of the board, and a majority of the members shall constitute a quorum of the board.
- Over in the Senate, “Confirmation of Gubernatorial Appointees” is the last of the 2019 Permanent Rules of the Senate.
- Confirmation by the Senate is not necessary for an appointee’s service to begin. The Senate’s confirmation procedure may not be completed over the course of a single legislative session or biennium. Or at all, as seen with Hauge’s second appointment.
- Confirmation of Chair Rushford’s gubernatorial appointment has been processing in the Senate since January 2015.
- Confirmation of Member Ollie Garrett’s gubernatorial appointment has been processing in the Senate since January 2017.
- In 2018, at the January 23rd WSLCB Board Caucus, the board members discussed how their public hearings went the previous week. Garrett’s public hearing before the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee (LBRC) occurred on January 17th (video) and the Committee unanimously recommended her confirmation the next day. But the confirmation was not calendared for a floor vote that session, and was reintroduced in 2019 along with Rushford and Hauge’s confirmations.
- In 2019 on January 23rd, all three WSLCB Board Members had been scheduled to have their gubernatorial appointments recommended once again for confirmation by the LBRC, but consideration of Hauge’s confirmation was removed the day before the executive session almost certainly on recognition of the expiration of his term (agenda).
- On January 24th at the beginning of the LBRC Committee meeting, Chair Karen Keiser called the Committee into executive session and processed new recommendations for confirmation of the gubernatorial appointments of Jane Rushford (video) and Ollie Garrett (video). The Committee’s recommendations have been referred to the Senate Rules Committee to calendar floor votes to formalize the confirmations.
- At the time of publication, Cannabis Observer was not able to identify a Senate action to initiate confirmation of Russell Hauge’s latest re-appointment.
- Member Hauge shared an update on a conversation he had with the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington (audio – 1m).
- Hauge: “He is, of course, concerned about Tribal compacting… There might be an attempt to setup a 3 or 4 or more party discussion about their issues at the U.S. Attorney’s office in the near future.”
- Hauge: “He understands very well the limitations of what we can do and the consequences of federal action. But he has some legitimate concerns that we need to address.”