A state committee on Thursday offered support for naming a new office building under construction on the Capitol Campus after former state lawmaker Helen Sommers.
Sommers was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1972 and served until 2009. At the time she left, the Seattle Democrat was the state’s longest-serving lawmaker, according to the Capitol Campus Design Advisory Committee, which met in Olympia.
The building — known as the 1063 Block project — is at the intersection of Capitol Way South and 11th Avenue and has been under construction since mid-2015. It’s scheduled to be completed in September 2017.
Sommers was the chief budget writer for the House for eight years, including three as co-chair when the House was tied between Democrats and Republicans. When first elected, she was one of just 12 women in the 147-member Legislature.
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Committee member Karen Fraser, a Democratic state senator from Olympia, said Sommers was known for being “absolutely iron-steady” in her support for fully funding state pension plans.
“She should be remembered for that in addition to her women’s movement leadership,” Fraser said at the committee meeting. Sommers is retired and did not attend the meeting.
Before the building is named, the State Capitol Committee, the director of the Department of Enterprise Services and the Legislature must approve the name.
Earlier this year, the state House proposed naming the 1063 building after Sommers, but the measure never passed the Legislature.
Ann Larson, the DES director of government relations, said it’s hard to predict if lawmakers will approve naming the building after Sommers next year.
The main tenants of the five-story 215,000-square-foot office building will be the Washington State Patrol and the Office of Financial Management. Legislative sub-agencies such as the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee and other groups may be housed in the building as well.
Seattle artist Beliz Brother, who has done numerous public art installations in the Northwest, will be creating art for the 1063 building, the committee announced.
The committee also recommended naming the OB2 building on the campus, occupied by the Department of Health and Social Services, the Human Services Building. That name still needs more approval as well.
Panel members also had an update on efforts to create more visitor parking on the Capitol campus.
Enterprise Services is in the process of turning parking reserved for employees of state agencies into paid parking for visitors. By Sept. 1, about 500 reserved parking spaces had been converted to paid parking on the campus. Another 183 reserved spaces need to still be changed, according to Enterprise Services.