House Speaker Frank Chopp to step down as leader next spring

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington state House Speaker Frank Chopp says he will step down from his leadership post next spring, but will continue to serve in the chamber.

The Seattle Democrat announced his decision Tuesday, spokesman Jim Richards said. A new speaker will be chosen by the caucus and voted on by the full chamber sometime before the end of the 105-day legislative session that begins in January.

Chopp, 65, was first elected to the House in 1994. He became minority leader in his second term. After Democrats won more seats in the chamber and pulled into a tie, he became co-speaker, sharing the gavel with Republican Clyde Ballard of East Wenatchee. Democrats won a special election in 2001, and Chopp was installed as speaker.

He has been the state’s longest-serving speaker of the House. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Chopp is the second longest-serving House speaker in the nation.