The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus called a press conference on the one-year anniversary of its creation, saying they have outlasted skeptics and plan to move forward with an agenda that includes reforms to basic education and workers’ compensation.
Last year, Democratic Senators Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon announced they were joining with 23 Republicans to form a new coalition to take control of the Senate.
The GOP-dominated caucus will have a 26-23 vote majority over Democrats in the 2014 legislative session with the addition of Republican Rep. Jan Angel, who unseated Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher in November.
“It’s working,” said Tom, who said the intent of the coalition is to govern in a bipartisan manner and avoid Washington D.C.-style gridlock.
Yet a battle over the budget this year drove the state Legislature into a special session that ended three days before it would have caused a partial government shutdown.
“I think the reason we went into special session is nobody thought we’d ever last and they were waiting us out,” Tom said. “We stuck together.”
Majority coalition leaders say they plan revive efforts to make changes to the K-12 education system and workers’ compensation.
Sen. Mark Schoesler pointed to one workers compensation bill introduced last session that would have allowed injured workers to take a lump sum settlement rather than lifetime payouts. The bill passed out of the Senate, but was opposed by labor and did not come up for a vote in the House.
“It’s a voluntary participation that has potential for huge savings,” Schoesler said.
Tom said the coalition also plans to focus on K-12 education bills that would make changes to the system, but don’t require additional money.
Watch Tuesday’s press conference below: