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July 27, 2010

Legislative Leader Awarded for Trying to Break Partisan Divide

Washington’s House Majority Leader is honored with national top legislative award.

LOUISVILLE, KY. – At a time when extreme partisanship has become the norm in some statehouses and in Congress, Washington Representative Lynn Kessler is a legislator who understands the value of giving everyone a stake in the legislative process. This is why House Majority Leader Kessler has been honored with the 2010 Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award.

Kessler was honored at the 36th annual National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky.,on Tuesday,  July 27, at that day's general session.

“It is an honor to commend Representative Lynn Kessler with the Excellence in State Legislative Leadership award,” said NCSL executive director William T. Pound. “Representative Kessler is an example of the commitment to maintain and enhance the legislature as an effective institution of government. She is recognized in her home state for her outreach to all regions, parties and groups.”

The Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award is presented annually to a leader who has worked to preserve and build public trust in the institution of the state legislature and whose career embodies the highest principles of leadership. Representative Kessler is the first woman to be the sole recipient of this award. Women have previously received the leadership award, but together with a male lawmaker. The award is presented jointly by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the State Legislative Leaders Foundation.

“I am enthusiastic about the committee’s selection of House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler as this year’s winner,” said Stephen Lakis, president of the foundation. “By reaching across the aisle and making sure things got done, Representative Kessler exemplifies the very spirit of this award.”

Representative Kessler has championed a “One Washington” approach, an effort to unite all the regions of the state. Kessler often receives praise from an unlikely group: the press. In 2007, she received the Freedom Light Award from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.

Representative Kessler is serving her ninth term in the Washington House and has served as majority leader for 12 years. 

The Excellence in State Legislative Leadership Award was founded in 1996. The State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF)  and NCSL first honored William M. Bulger, former president of the Massachusetts Senate, for his distinguished career in public service and particularly for his commitment to protecting and strengthening the institution of the state legislature. That event was the catalyst for the annual award.

Each year, the winner is selected by an independent, nonpartisan selection committee of legislators, former legislators, scholars and representatives of the two sponsoring organizations. The award is presented at the Legislative Summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures each year. Last year’s recipients was then-Senate President Richard Codey of New Jersey.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.

The State Legislative Leaders Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established in 1972 to serve America’s state legislative leaders: Senate presidents, House speakers, majority leaders, minority leaders and pro tempores. It conducts national educational programs and provides research on public policy issues, leadership behavior, and state legislatures specifically for state legislative leaders.