In 2013, the Honorable Lynn C. Woolsey, retired representative for California's Sixth Congressional District, donated her official papers to the Sonoma State University Library.
The papers include legislative research, introduced and passed bills, speeches, manuscripts, awards, and visual media documenting years of committed service to Sonoma and Marin counties. The papers offer a wealth of research materials to students, faculty, and the community and present a window into the workings of Congress and the role of elected representatives.
During her tenure in the House of Representatives (1993–2013), Lynn Woolsey championed causes related to the environment, women, children, diversity, education, workers' rights, civil rights, and world peace. A progressive Democrat, she served on the Committee on Education and the Workforce; the Committee on Science, Space and Technology; and the Foreign Affairs Committee. She chaired the Workforce Protection Subcommittee, co-chaired the Congressional Progressive Caucus and served on many other caucuses and informal committees. Her active opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be her greatest legacy.
Throughout her political career, Lynn Woolsey worked extensively on environmental projects. Her passion for the planet and determination to keep it healthy for future generations is a clear example of her progressive Democratic ideology.
Her “green” efforts are exemplified in H.R. 1995, The Point Reyes National Seashore Farmland Protection Act of 1997. In her words, this act “is a creative solution for protecting our agricultural land, a solution that balances environmental and economic needs, while at the same time respecting the rights of individual property owners. H.R. 1995 will serve as a national model for the protection of agriculture, as well as for the protection of our Nation’s investment in its national parks.” The act had bipartisan co-sponsorship in Congress, with Lynn Woolsey its main champion. Learn more about H.R. 1995 and read the text of the hearing.
erhaps her most important achievement to do with environmental protection is the introduction of H.R. 1187, a plan to expand the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones – in order to triple the North Coast Marine Sanctuary boundary from Bodega Bay to north of Point Arena – and to prohibit oil and gas exploration or drilling in those waters. Before Representative Woolsey retired, President Obama made a commitment to accomplish what her bill proposed. This bill will be signed into law later in 2014.
During Lynn Woolsey’s congressional tenure, Proposition 8 brought the conversation on civil rights for the LGBT community to the forefront in California. The NOH8 campaign opposed Proposition 8, which would revoke same-sex marriage in California. Lynn Woolsey’s participation in this campaign demonstrated her clear support for the LGBT community and its goal to achieve full civil rights.
In regards to NOH8, she said "I'm proud to participate in this extraordinary campaign, to make this statement of protest against the treatment of LGBT Americans as second-class citizens. I believe this is the defining civil rights struggle of our time — where you stand today on marriage equality will determine how you are judged by history. What’s at stake is the human dignity of LGBT people. To deny equal rights and freedoms based on sexual orientation does violence to American values" (Contra Costa Times Political Blotter).
Lynn Woolsey believes in serving those who serve our nation. Over the years, this belief has been at the forefront of many of her initiatives and resulted in a Special Recognition Award for her “unflinching dedication and service to our nation’s Veterans and their families” from the 78th Chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, located in Santa Rosa, California. The award shown here is just one of many symbols of recognition she has received for her work in this arena.
Learn more about the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Her support of local veterans is very much evident in her involvement with the Honoring Our Marin Veterans Oral History Project. She partnered with founder Nicholas Elsbree to create the project, whose purpose is to "capture the personal recollections of those men and women who have served their country in the armed forces, past and present."
Learn more about the Oral History Project.
War and Peace
During the years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lynn Woolsey gave over 400 anti-war speeches on the floor of the House: "These wars are…bankrupting us morally and fiscally; teaching our children that warfare is 'the new normal.' "[The Press Democrat, July 12, 2011]. She was the first member of Congress to bring legislation to the House floor asking President George W. Bush to bring our troops home.
Her relentless efforts to spread the anti-war message to her colleagues and her constituency led the communities in Cities for Peace – a network of elected officials working to highlight the costs of U.S. foreign policy – to publish numerous proclamations of support for Representative Woolsey. Pictured is one such proclamation from the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Learn more about Cities for Peace.
Education and Workforce
Lynn Woolsey authored the first successful legislation to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This changed the rules to allow family and appropriate friends to be protected by FMLA from loss of employment if they take time off to assist a member of the military. It was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 1993.
Additionally, she wrote legislation designed to expand free school breakfasts for all elementary school students. It was signed into law by President Clinton. Five model programs were set up across the country, and results after three years indicated that students achieved much more in school after eating a healthy breakfast.
As Chair/Leader of the Workforce Protection Subcommittee, Lynn Woolsey introduced expanded and strengthened rules to help the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to better protect workers. Watch this video on the OSHA Coverage Hearing.
Learn more about Lynn Woolsey
Read about her views at On the Issues.