The Majority Coalition Caucus – made up of 24 Republicans and Democrats Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) and Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D-Medina) — promoted one its newest members, Sen. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard), with a new co-chair position which had been held previously by a Democrat.
Sen. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard), right, listens as Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) objects to a motion to name her as a co-chair to a committee that he has been chairing.
Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) now shares a gavel with Angel on the Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee. The motion passed 26-23 along caucus lines.
Majority Coalition Caucus chairwoman Sen. Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) told reporters after the vote that the caucus simply wanted Angel’s expertise in banking and in real estate on the committee. Parlette also added that the Majority Coalition also removed Ferndale Republican Doug Ericksen from the Health Care Committee at the request of the Democrats.
In a prepared statement, Angel cited her experience as a good fit for the committee, and pledged to work with Hobbs.
“One of the benefits of having a citizen legislature in Washington is that the knowledge and skills from our private lives can be put to use on behalf of the people of this state. The issues that come up in the committee will likely be familiar to me, having spent a good part of my professional life working in commercial banking, insurance, and real estate,” she said in a prepared statement.
However, Hobbs, who bucked his own party last year to accept a chair a committee, said on the floor that he felt the decision to name Angel as co-chair was based on party politics.
“And I have had many of my good friends on the other side of the aisle come up to me from their last caucus vote that led us to this to say, ‘Man, Steve, I’m sorry. I was with you and I fought hard for you in the caucus, but I can’t go against the caucus. Gotta have unity.’ “
Senate Financial Institutions committee co-chairs Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) and Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) speak after Angel was voted to co-chair the committee.
Hobbs had been one of two Senate Democrats who held sole committee chair positions when the Majority Coalition Caucus took control of the Senate last session. The move leaves Sen. Brian Hatfield (D- Raymond) as the sole Democrat who heads a committee — the Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development committee. Sen. Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way) co-chairs the transportation committee with Yakima Republican Sen. Curtis King.
Hatfield made a motion to postpone the change until Feb. 8, after the last day to read in committee reports, but the motion was rejected along caucus lines.
In November, Angel defeated incumbent Democrat Nathan Schlicher, who was appointed to the seat after Derek Kilmer was elected to Congress in 2012.
After the vote, Hobbs said he fears that entrenched partisan politics will block bills that he says would have enough support to pass — such as the DREAM act, a bill requiring insurance coverage for abortions, the transportation tax package, and a cost of living adjustment for teachers.
“I think this is the first step of them caving in to the right wing of their caucus,” he said. “My hope is that I’m proven wrong. That moderates in their caucus will stand up and allow some of these bills to go through and then we can move forward with good legislation in this state.”
His sentiment was echoed by Democratic Sen. Sharon Nelson of Maury Island.
“Sen. Hobbs stood up for what he believes in – women’s reproductive health, educational opportunities for all children – and now he no longer serves as Chair of a committee that he has led with distinction for several years,” she said in a prepared statement.
“I am alarmed by the increasing levels of partisanship from the Republican Majority.”
Parlette said that Majority Coalition Caucus plans to work in a bipartisan manner, and hoped that the Democrats would work with the coalition on bills they want passed.
“In my eighteen years, I’ve been in the minority most of the time,” Parlette said. “I’ve chosen to work across the aisle because if you want to get things done if you’re in the minority that’s how you do it. If you don’t want to work together, it’s harder to get things done.”
Majority Coalition Caucus stand to be counted in opposition to a proposal to postpone the appointment of Sen. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) to co-chair the Senate financial institutions committee.
TVW aired the proceedings. We will post a link to the video in the archives when it is posted.