Archive for Republicans

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Inslee’s state of the state, Republican response and revenue forecast bill

By | January 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from Gov. Jay Inslee’s State of the State address, as well as the Republican response. Plus, the Senate budget writing committee considers a bill that supporters say would help lawmakers finish their work on time without going into special session. The measure would move up the quarterly revenue forecast from March to Feburary during long sessions.

“Legislative Review” recaps each day’s legislative activities in 15 minutes. It airs nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m.

Republicans say Inslee proposals would risk economy

By | January 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

Screen shot of Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) delivering the Republican perspective on Jan. 13, 2015.

Rep. Norma Smith (R-Clinton) and Republicans in the Senate and House rebutted major points in Gov. Jay Inslee‘s State of the State address, saying his proposed policies would damage economic growth and would be unnecessary.

“His proposals do, indeed, have a cost. They would increase the cost of our food, our utility bills, and our fuel to get to and from work. And they would hit hard our rural communities,” said Smith, in the remarks delivered in the Republican response to the State of the State.

“Why then, would you put on the table any proposal that has in its crosshairs the very sector of our economy most crucial to our economic recovery and vitality?” she said.

She also said that there has been bipartisan support for such environmental policies as cleaning up waterways and toxic sites, and that she personally is committed to developing renewable energy, but that “there is room for on this issue for reasonable debate.”

“The governor says we need to create a new fuel mandate and new taxes to demonstrate leadership. But his proposals will have almost zero impact on the global challenges we are facing,” Smith said.

“We are absolutely willing to consider pollution-reducing ideas that will work, and that won’t place such a terrible burden on the hard-working people of Washington state, particularly those in the middle class, and those who are struggling,” she said.

Smith also said that the state can fund education through a combination of changes in policy and an additional $3 billion in revenue than originally forecast.

“If we are thoughtful and careful about how we spend your tax dollars, and prioritize, we can balance our state budget without tax increases,” Smith said.

“[W]e must rectify the failure of the past three decades, where leadership in Olympia has allowed non-education spending to dramatically outpace education spending. Simply put: education has not been the top priority. Funding education first would change that,” she said.

Smith joined fellow Republicans representatives Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) and Dan Kristiansen (R-Snohomish) and senators Ann Rivers (R-La Center), Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) and Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) to rebut other parts of the governor’s address, and to answer questions from the media.


Categories: Budget, Education, Republicans

Live from the Capitol: TVW’s opening day show starts 10 a.m. Monday

By | January 9, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Legislature’s 2015 session begins Monday, Jan. 12. Opening ceremonies start at noon, but tune in to TVW early to catch exclusive interviews with lawmakers, who will discuss key issues for the coming months.

Starting at 10 a.m., The Impact’s Anita Kissee will host the live show from the Capitol rotunda. Gov. Jay Inslee will stop by to talk about his budget proposal and more.

Guests include House and Senate leadership from both sides of the aisle, including Senators Sharon Nelson, Mark Schoesler, Andy Billig, Linda Evans Parlette and Representatives Dan Kristiansen, Pat Sullivan, Joel Kretz and Eric Pettigrew.

Hear about key issues including education, transportation and mental health from Senators Jeannie Darneille, Doug Ericksen, Curtis King, Steve Litzow, Rosemary McAuliffe, John McCoy and Steve O’Ban, plus Representatives Judy Clibborn, Hans Dunshee, Richard DeBolt, Cary Condotta and Sharon Wylie.

We’ll also get insight about the session from Capitol reporters Jim Camden of The Spokesman-Review and Jordan Schrader from The News Tribune.

TVW will carry gavel-to-gavel coverage of opening ceremonies beginning at noon.

Stay tuned to TVW throughout the session for coverage of the state Legislature. Starting opening day of session, Legislative Review will air nightly at 6:30 and 11 p.m. “The Impact” airs Wednesdays at 7 and 10 p.m. and Inside Olympia with Austin Jenkins is Thursdays at 7 and 10 p.m.

Senate Republicans propose rule change to require two-thirds majority for tax bills in chamber

By | January 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

Two state Senate Republicans want to change the chamber’s voting rules to require a two-thirds majority vote on bills that include tax increases.

Washington voters have approved initiatives requiring supermajorities five times between 1993 and 2012, but the state Supreme Court ruled the law was unconstitutional.

Ferndale Sen. Doug Ericksen and Spokane Sen. Michael Baumgartner now want to use a procedural rule change to get around the court’s ruling.

“Voters demonstrated five times that they wanted this protection,” Baumgartner said in a news release. “What the Supreme Court took away, the Legislature can return – and it’s about time we did it. The Supreme Court can make its rulings in its chamber. The Senate makes its own rules in ours.”

The rule change would apply only to the Senate – not both chambers, like the initiative. But bills must still be approved by both chambers to become law, meaning any bills with a tax increase would have to clear the two-thirds majority in the Senate. Voter-approved referendums would be an exception to the rule change, requiring only a simple majority to pass, according to the statement.

To change the rules, the Senate only needs a simple majority — 25 of 49 Senators. The Majority Coalition Caucus controls the Senate with 25 Republicans and one Democrat.

Categories: Republicans, WA Senate

Majority Coalition Caucus Selects all Republican Committee Leaders

By | December 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

With Republicans firmly in control of the Washington State Senate, the Majority Coalition offered all committee chairmanships to members of the majority party. No Democrats were included on the list of chair assignments released by the caucus Tuesday afternoon.

For the last two year, with two Democratic members of the MCC, the caucus had given the chair position to Democrats on two committees: Financial Institutions & Insurance, chaired by Sen. Steve Hobbs (D – Lake Stevens), and Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development, chaired by Sen. Brian Hatfield (D – Raymond). In 2014, Sen. Hobbs was demoted to co-chair in order to share the position with Sen. Jan Angel (R – Port Orchard). Former Sen. Tracey Eide (D – Federal Way) co-chaired the Transportation Committee. The Democrats turned down other chair positions that had been initially offered.

This year the only Democratic member of the Majority Coalition Caucus is Sen. Tim Sheldon (D – Potlach).

New this year, the Majority Coalition created the Accountability & Reform Committee. Senator-elect Mark Miloscia, who was once a Democrat, (R – Federal Way) will chair that committee. In a Senate Republican press release, new Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler (R – Ritzville) said the committee is a priority for the caucus. “We have a crisis of confidence and competence,” said Schoesler. “Our main focus will be to restore people’s trust and to make sure state government works for the people who pay the bills and not just special interests.”

Other committees that will be lead by new chairs:

-Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development
Chair: Senator-elect Judy Warnick (R – Moses Lake)

-Commerce & Labor
Chair: Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R – Spokane)

-Financial Institutions & Insurance
Chair: Sen. Don Benton (R – Vancouver)

-Trade & Economic Development
Chair: Sen. Sharon Brown (R – Kennewick)

Chair: Sen. Curtis King (R – Yakima)

The remaining committees will be led by the same chair:

-Early Learning & K-12 Education
Chair: Sen. Steve Litzow (R – Mercer Island)

-Energy, Environment & Telecommunications
Chair: Sen. Doug Ericksen (R – Ferndale)

-Governmental Operations
Chair: Sen. Pam Roach (R – Auburn)

-Health Care
Chair: Sen. Randi Becker (R – Eatonville)

-Higher Education
Chair: Sen. Barbara Bailey (R – Oak Harbor)

-Human Services, Mental Health & Housing
Chair: Sen. Steve O’Ban (R – Tacoma)

-Law & Justice
Chair: Sen. Mike Padden (R – Spokane Valley)

-Natural Resources & Parks
Chair: Sen. Kirk Pearson (R – Monroe)

-Ways and Means
Chair: Sen. Andy Hill (R – Redmond)

Legislative Year in Review

By | March 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

On this special one-hour edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights from the 2014 session — from opening day to Sine Die. The show includes debate over issues such as the Dream Act, minimum wage, gun control, abortion insurance bill, death penalty, mental health, teacher evaluations, taxing e-cigarettes and the supplemental budget. Plus, a quick wrap-up of several of the bills that passed this year. Watch the show below:

Live in Olympia: TVW’s Sine Die show starts at 8 a.m. Thursday

By | March 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington’s legislative leaders will adjourn the 2014 session Thursday, unless a special session extends the deadline. But before they go back to their districts TVW will air back-to-back live interviews with more than 20 lawmakers starting at 8 a.m. Thursday.

Anita Kissée reporting live from the capitol rotunda for TVW's special edition mid-session show Feb. 18.

Anita Kissée, host of The Impact, will sit down with Gov. Jay Inslee, House Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan and House Republican leader Rep. Dan Kristiansen

Other guests include Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, R-Wenatchee, Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, D-Burien, and Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island. The lawmakers will talk about a range of issues from education to the capital budget to the environment.

Plus, Austin Jenkins, host of TVW’s “Inside Olympia” and reporter for the Public Radio Northwest News Network, and Brian Rosenthal, a state government reporter for The Seattle Times, will stop by to talk about some highlights from the past 60 days and what to expect when the election process begins.

Coverage will be here on the blog, and you can watch live on TVW or via webcast.

TVW live mid-session show starts at 8 a.m. Tuesday

By | February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

TVW will be live starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday with interviews from the Capitol rotunda for a special mid-session edition of The Impact with host Anita Kissée. Tuesday marks a key deadline in the 2014 legislative session as lawmakers rush to meet a 5 p.m. cutoff to move bills out of the chamber of origin.

Tune in to watch interviews with Gov. Jay Inslee, Senate leaders Rodney Tom and Christine Rolfes and House leaders Pat Sullivan and Dan Kristiansen. Plus, transportation leaders will stop by to talk about the latest progress on a transportation package.

The show will also include interviews with Sen. Ann Rivers and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, and Rep. Laurie Jinkins and Rep. Monica Stonier of the House Democratic Caucus.

We’ll also cover a range of issues, including the death penalty with Rep. Jay Rodne and Rep. Reuven Carlyle, education with Rep. Ross Hunter and Rep. Bruce Chandler, labor with Rep. Matt Manweller and Rep. Mike Sells, and higher education with Sen. Barbara Bailey and Rep. Larry Seaquist.

Watch live on TVW or via webcast.

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Inslee’s state of the state, Republican response & drug sentences

By | January 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we have highlights from Gov. Jay Inslee‘s first state of the state address. He called for a higher minimum wage, more education funding and a cost-of-living adjustment for teachers, along with the passage of a transportation package and climate change legislation.

We also have details from the Republican “perspective” delivered after Inslee’s address. Republican leaders also called a news conference in which they criticized Inslee’s speech for not having enough specifics. In the third segment of the show, lawmakers consider a bill that would reduce the penalty for possession of a controlled substance from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Republicans say Gov. Inslee’s plans lack specifics

By | January 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Legislators from the House Republicans and the Majority Coalition Caucus in the Senate gave remarks after Gov. Jay Inslee's State of the State Address.

Republicans criticized Gov. Jay Inslee‘s State of the State address, saying that while it was big on new ideas, there were few specifics about where the state will get the money to pay for it.

Inslee called for more education funding and a higher minimum wage in his speech Tuesday, along with action on transportation and climate change.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler said Inslee was “very short on details” on how to fund education to comply with the McCleary ruling and how he plans to achieve his goals with climate change.

“He left a lot of vagueness out there in those areas,” Schoesler said.

Schoesler spoke at a press conference held by House Republicans and members of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, including Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, following the governor’s remarks.

“There are no proposals to pay for anything,” Schoesler said. “It’s just I want to spend, I want to spend, and that’s all there is.”

House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen said the governor’s proposals would hurt middle class families. “It’s great to talk pie in the sky about all these great ideas, at the end of the day it’s got to be paid for,” Kristiansen said.

Tom and the Republicans say the governor’s proposal to raise the minimum wage by $1.50 to $2.50 an hour would hurt the economy and jobs. The state’s current minimum wage is $9.32 an hour, the highest in the nation.


Live at noon on TVW: Inslee’s State of the State Address, and Republican reaction

By | January 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee will deliver the 2014 State of the State Address at noon today before a joint session of the House and Senate. TVW will air the governor’s remarks live.

Gov. Jay Inslee (TVW file photo)

Immediately following the governor’s speech, TVW will be live with the Republican perspective delivered by Sen. Randi Becker (R- Eatonville). Senators from the Majority Coalition Caucus and Republicans in the House of Representatives also will discuss their top priorities for the upcoming 60-day legislative session at a press conference.

There’s also plenty of legislative coverage online today.

Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina) and Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) will discuss the Early Start Act of 2014, which aims to increase the number of early learning programs in the state. TVW will tape the press conference and air it later.

You can see what TVW is covering by checking out the schedule online.

Live in Olympia: TVW’s Opening Session show starts at 10 a.m. Monday

By | January 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington’s legislative leaders are jumping into a new session Monday and TVW will air exclusive interviews with many lawmakers before they take their seats. You can watch it on TV or our live stream on the web.

Anita Kissée, host of The Impact, will be reporting live from the Capitol from 10 a.m. to noon. Opening ceremonies begin at noon, and we’ll be back with more live interviews from 12:45 to 1:15 p.m.

We’ll start the show off at 10 a.m. with an interview with Gov. Jay Inslee, which will replay at 11:45 a.m. and 1:20 p.m.

Other guests include Senators Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, Sharon Nelson, D- Maury Island, Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, and Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. We’ll also be interviewing Representatives Ross Hunter, D-Medina, Pat Sullivan, D- Covington, Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, and Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda.

State capital reporter for The News Tribune Jordan Schrader and AP correspondent Rachel La Corte will stop by the set to discuss the key issues they anticipate will be high on the legislative agenda.

Coverage will be here on the blog, and Legislative Review will air a rundown of the events at 6:30 p.m. on TVW. The show airs every night during the session, providing a 15-minute recap of the day’s legislative highlights.

Legislative leaders discuss upcoming session, question if supplemental budget is necessary

By | January 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

Legislative leaders from the four corners discussed the upcoming session at the AP Legislative Preview forum Thursday, with some suggesting that a supplemental operating budget may not be necessary this year.

The Legislature writes a biennial budget in odd-numbered years, and a supplemental budget in even-numbered years. In 2013, lawmakers adopted a $33.6 billion, two-year operating budget. During the recession, lawmakers had to make significant adjustments to supplemental budgets, but revenue is expected to stay flat or slightly increase in 2014.

“You could operate without a supplemental budget. There are sufficient funds,” said Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler. “We have to be very careful that we don’t create a bow wave that would go over our four-year balanced budget requirement.”

Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson and House Speaker Frank Chopp disagreed, saying there are investments that could be made this year in areas like K-12 education and mental health.

Legislative leaders at the AP forum

Chopp said Washington has one of the worst records in the nation for available psychiatric beds. As a result, mentally ill patients are being boarded in beds in the hallways of emergency rooms.

“That’s not right. We should do something about that,” said Chopp. “Luckily the investment we’re talking about would be fairly modest in the supplemental, but I think we need to look at that.”

Nelson said the Legislature should also see if there’s additional progress that can be made in funding K-12 education to meet McCleary requirements.

If the Legislature does adopt a supplemental budget, Schoesler said it must be “gimmick free.” He said he also wants to avoid making “random acts of kindness in K-12″ that he says won’t make a difference in the long-term.

“My concern every year when we go into supplemental budgets is that we don’t start adding to our expenditures,” said House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish.

The panel also discussed issues such as pension reform, climate change, workers’ compensation, medical marijuana and transportation. Watch the full video below.

Susan Hutchison named new state GOP chair

By | August 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

Former KIRO TV anchor Susan Hutchison is replacing Kirby Wilbur as the chair of the Washington State Republican Party.

Wilbur resigned last month to take a job with the Young America’s Foundation in Washington D.C.

The state GOP party announced the news on its Facebook page on Saturday following a runoff vote between Hutchison and Luanne Van Werven, who has been serving as the interim chair.

The Seattle Times has a more details about Saturday’s election.

Hutchison ran for King County Executive in 2009 but was defeated by Dow Constantine.


Categories: Republicans

House Republicans tap Kristiansen as new leader

By | April 29, 2013 | 0 Comments

Rep. Dan Kristiansen (R-Snohomish) has been elected leader of the minority House Republicans.

Kristiansen replaces Rep. Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis), who stepped down due to health concerns on April 17. The announcement was made over the weekend as lawmakers finished up the 105-day regular session. A special session is slated to begin May 13.

The vote was unanimous for the 50-year-old real estate businessman who has been serving in the Legislature since 2003.

“I appreciate the confidence my colleagues have shown in me, but this isn’t about me. This is about a group of 43 Republican lawmakers who are dedicated to creating jobs, improving our education system and protecting hard-working taxpayers,” Kristiansen said in a news release. “It’s a unique time to come in as leader, but we are all united and will continue to advocate for solutions to get Washington working.”

Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) was retained deputy leader. Here’s the rest of the leadership team:

  • Caucus chair: Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake (replaces Rep. Dan Kristiansen)
  • Vice-caucus chair: Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy
  • Floor leader: Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm
  • Assistant floor leader: Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley
  • Assistant floor leader: Rep. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County(replaces Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, who chose not to run for the position again)
  • Whip: Rep. Paul Harris, R-Vancouver
  • Assistant whip: Rep. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney
  • Assistant whip: Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union
  • Assistant whip: Rep. Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe


Categories: Republicans, WA House

GOP leaders respond to Inslee’s inaugural speech

By | January 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

Senate and House Republican leaders outlined a number of concerns with parts of new Gov. Jay Inslee’s inaugural address during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Rep. Richard Debolt (R-Chehalis)

House Republican Leader Richard Debolt (R-Chehalis) said he was disappointed that Inslee was picking winners and losers by supporting tax breaks for programs delivering clean energy.

“State government shouldn’t decide who is successful and who is not. We have to do what we can to help all businesses,” Debolt said.

Debolt said he was also surprised the governor mentioned his support for the Reproductive Parity Act, which would require insurance companies to cover abortions if they also cover live births.

“It was funny that he would take a day of unification and try to make it a politically dividing event,” DeBolt said. “Social issues are not as important as it is getting people back to work again. That should be the focus of our governor.”

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) said the governor’s speech lacked detail, especially concerning gun control.

“The governor hasn’t given us any specifics on gun safety. We all agree it’s important, but there were no details prior and none today in the speech,” Schoesler said.

All the Republican leaders praised Inslee for the making jobs his top priority and said they plan to help Inslee keep his campaign pledge to not raise taxes.

“We have to have those jobs to get people off public assistance,” Rep. Dan Kristiansen (R-Snohomish) said.

Rep. Kevin Parker (R-Spokane) gave a videotaped official Republican perspective prior to the news conference.

Parker focused on funding education and balancing the budget without introducing new taxes.


Sens. Rodney Tom, Ed Murray disagree on power-sharing agreement in Senate

By | January 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

Days away from the start of the 2013 legislative session, Senate leaders still disagree on how they will share power on committees.

Senate Republicans will control the chamber with the help of two breakaway Democrats, Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon. The coalition has proposed that each party chair six committees, and co-chair three committees.

Under the proposal, Republicans would chair the most powerful committees — including the budget, education and healthcare — while Democrats would get six lower-tier committees.

At the Associated Press Legislative Preview event today, Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray said his members have voted to reject the GOP offer and they don’t intend to name chairs to the committees that the Republicans have offered.

“Offering the smaller committees to Democrats isn’t bipartisan,” Murray said.

Tom, who is the leader of the coalition, said the group is offering Democrats an “unprecedented amount of power,” and they’re still waiting for a response.

“We’re not doing this for window dressing,” said Tom. “We’re approaching this so we can have a vibrant dialogue.”

Tom said the coalition approached committee chairmanship like a business and selected the best qualified person for the job. For example, he said Sen. Andy Hill, the Redmond Republican who has been tapped to lead the budget-writing committee, holds an MBA from Harvard and is a former Microsoft executive.

Murray said he hopes both sides can “negotiate a bipartisan way to govern” before the start of session on Monday.

“We can move forward regardless of some of the complications that exist,” Murray said “The thing to focus on is the end result.”


Republican response to Gov. Gregoire’s proposed budget

By | December 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

The top Republican on the budget-writing committee in the House, Rep. Gary Alexander of Olympia, said Tuesday he believes Gov. Chris Gregoire‘s proposed budget will be “dead on arrival” once session starts in January.

“While I can see using a few of her budget reductions, I just can’t see the incoming legislature or the new governor using her overall budget or her tax increases as a starting point,” Alexander said in a statement.

Gregoire called for the renewal of two expiring taxes to pay for education funding, as well as the implementation of a new wholesale gas tax that would fund school transportation.

Alexander said the state doesn’t need to raise taxes to pay for education. “Her budget ties student transportation funding to one of the most volatile funding sources — a tax on the wholesale price of gas,” Alexander said.

Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, has been nominated to chair the Senate budget-writing committee by the GOP-led coalition. He said Gregoire’s budget will be a “useful reference” as the Senate prepares its own budget.

“We will be working under a number of constraints.  One is the new state law that requires the budget to balance across four years of projections.  This will have the effect of creating a responsible budget that looks to long-term stability.  Also, given Gov.-elect Inslee’s promise to veto any new taxes, we are moving forward under the assumption that additional taxes are not an option,” Hill said.

Categories: Budget, Republicans

Senate Democrats reject GOP power-sharing proposal, offer counterproposal

By | December 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

Senate Democrats on Monday rejected a power-sharing proposal offered by the Republican-led coalition, instead offering a counterproposal that would install a co-chair from each party on all committees.

Republicans dismissed the idea, saying that having co-chairs on all committees “would be a recipe for gridlock, particularly in areas like education and the operating budget.”

Senate Republicans announced earlier this month they plan to control the chamber with the help of two breakaway Democrats, Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon. The group, calling itself the Majority Coalition Caucus, will hold a 25 to 24 vote advantage.

The coalition asked Democrats to accept a power-sharing agreement that would give each party six committee chairs. Under the proposal, Republicans would chair the most powerful committees — including the budget, education and healthcare committees — while Democrats would get natural resources, agriculture, trade, financial institutions, higher education and environment.

Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray rejected that proposal, saying it’s clear the Senate is in a “virtual tie” and the committee structure should reflect that.

“We propose a structure of co-leadership and co-chairs of all committees. We would support Republicans and they would support us in a true bipartisan arrangement with true sharing of power and responsibilities,” Murray said in a statement.

Tom, who would serve as the coalition’s majority leader, and Senate Republican leader Mark Schoesler called on Democrats to cooperate.

“It is our hope that the current majority will cooperate with us to ensure a smooth handoff of leadership and allow the Senate to tackle the many pressing needs of our state from day one of the 2013 session,” Tom and Schoesler said in a joint statement.

Meanwhile, Murray and Tom exchanged letters about the upcoming session in which it is clear the two sides won’t cooperate before session. That means the GOP-led coalition will likely have to change the rules of the Senate if it wants to take control in January.

Two Democrats join GOP to form new caucus that will control state Senate

By | December 10, 2012 | 0 Comments

Two fiscally conservative Democrats announced today they are joining forces with Republicans to create a new “majority coalition caucus” that will control the Washington state Senate.

Democratic Senators Rodney Tom of Bellevue and Tim Sheldon of Potlatch stood with five Senate Republican leaders at a press conference Monday to explain how the new caucus will govern. Tom would serve as the new Senate majority leader, and Sheldon would be president pro tempore.

Sen. Rodney Tom at the press conference

The caucus has proposed splitting power by allowing Democrats and Republicans to each chair six committees, and co-chair three committees.

The powerful budget-writing Ways and Means committee would be chaired by Republican Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond under the proposal. The K-12 education committee would be led by Republican Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island.

Tom said he believes more Democrats will join the caucus, which has pledged to govern under a set of “principles” that include creating a sustainable budget, promoting job growth and reforming education.

“The public is not looking for one-party domination,” Tom said. “They are looking for us to get away from politics and start governing.”

Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray released a statement saying that “any majority in the Senate will be an unstable one.” Democrats held a slim 26-23 majority before today’s announcement; the new caucus would hold a 25-24 majority.

“We don’t believe the Republicans’ take-it-or-leave-it plan offers the right way forward. We remain hopeful that Republicans will be open to negotiations to ensure the full functioning of the Senate,” Murray said.