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Who Should Be on Your State AI Task Force?

Washington state’s attorney general has announced the members of its Artificial Intelligence Task Force. Here's how Washington’s approach aligns with, and differs from, other state efforts.

Illustrations in blue and white feature human sillhouettes holding hands with white human sillhouettes that say "Ai"
Membership in Washington state’s new Artificial Intelligence Task Force, announced Friday, mirrors the work a growing number of states have undertaken to establish task forces of their own on the topic.

The Washington panel will aim to address the nascent technology’s benefit and risks by convening tech industry experts, members of labor organizations, civil liberty groups and other stakeholders to better understand AI.

Its members, all appointed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, include, from the state Legislature, Sen. Joe Nguyen, D-White Center; Sen. Matt Boehnke, R-Kennewick; Rep. Clyde Shavers, D-Clinton; and a not-yet-determined member of the House Republican Caucus. From state government, there’s Sheri Sawyer, deputy director of policy and outreach for the governor’s office; Rick Talbert, senior project adviser for the Auditor’s Office; and Katy Ruckle, chief privacy officer for Washington Technology Solutions.

From education, there’s Magdalena Balazinska, director of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington; from local government, there's Redmond Police Department Chief Darrell Lowe; and representing business and civil liberties are Tee Sannon, technology policy program director for the ACLU-Washington, Vicky Tamaru of buildJUSTLY and Paula Sardinas of the Washington Build Back Black Alliance.

From technology are Ryan Harkins, senior director of public policy at Microsoft, and Leah Koshiyama, senior director of responsible AI and tech at Salesforce. And from industries, including tech, are Kelly Fukai, vice president of government and community affairs at the Washington Technology Industry Association; Crystal Leatherman, state and local government affairs manager at the Washington Retail Association; Montana Miranda, senior manager of state government affairs at the Washington Hospitality Association; and Cherika Carter, secretary treasurer at the Washington State Labor Council.

“I appreciate the task force members for committing their time and expertise, exemplifying why Washington is a technology leader in this country,” Ferguson said in a news release.

The task force’s first meeting will take place this summer, and it will meet at least twice a year. During the next two years, the task force will issue findings, policy recommendations and guiding principles on AI; its final report is due to the governor and state Legislature by July 1, 2026.

Mandated topics the task force must address include high-risk uses of AI and opportunities to support innovation. It will have at least eight subcommittees, including one on education and workforce development and one on labor; in parallel to the task force’s work, the Attorney General’s Office will create a tribal advisory group on AI.

This year, Washington state leaders have been actively exploring the best approach to AI governance, but state Senate Bill 5838 is what pushed forth the creation of this Task Force.

“AI is a complex and rapidly evolving issue, and candidly, we have a lot of legislators who don’t fully understand it,” Nguyen, who sponsored SB 5838, previously told Government Technology via email.

It’s a similar mindset that has been seen in other states, with many taking action to establish dedicated AI task forces, including Alabama, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Not all of these task forces were established in the same way. While Washington’s task force came from state Senate Bill 5838, Alabama, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin stood up their task forces by governor’s executive order.

By contrast, officials in Colorado are looking to expand the responsibilities of an existing task force on biometric technologies to include a focus on, and members with expertise related to, AI. The state is looking to do so via House Bill 24-1468.

At the federal level, several task forces — including the House Bipartisan Task Force on AI, the Department of Homeland Security’s AI Task Force and the Department of Defense’s Task Force Lima — work to similarly address AI risks and benefits at a higher level with a broader perspective.