Democrats today proposed a leadership strategy intended to help the state Senate function effectively given its narrow partisan divide. The proposal includes forming a new Committee on Education Finance & Results, to be equally split between Republicans and Democrats and led by a co-chair from each party.
The caucus also elected a new slate of leaders, including recommending Sen. Jim Hargrove to lead the budget-writing Senate Ways & Means Committee. The Hoquiam Democrat is one of the Senate’s longest-serving members and known for his ability to work across party lines. He would be joined by Sen. Sharon Nelson, a Democrat from Vashon Island, as vice-chair of the committee, a position tasked with writing the state’s capital construction budget.
“In the Senate, we’ve shown a collaborative approach can get results,” said Senate Majority Leader Ed Murray, D-Seattle. “These proposals will help that collaboration continue in a chamber that often has fluid majorities. They reflect the diversity of our caucus and our state and the commitment by Senate Democrats to finding practical solutions to the issues facing Washingtonians of all walks of life.”
The proposed Select Committee on Education Finance & Results would continue the work of a legislative task force that has been looking for ways to comply with the state Supreme Court’s ruling in the McCleary case. The committee will explore ways to improve education funding in a manner that ensures state education programs are effective, including reducing remediation rates, increasing graduation rates and eliminating the achievement gap. The Democrats recommended Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, as their co-chair on the committee.
The Democrats also propose to reduce the partisan majority on Senate committees by giving the majority party just one more member than the minority party on the budget-writing committee, the Transportation Committee and all policy committees. No majority, Republican or Democratic, has allowed for such a narrow split in at least a decade.
Senate Democrats expect to discuss their proposals with their Republican colleagues after the Republicans select their own leadership team, Murray added.
The new roster of Democratic Caucus leadership named today includes:
Caucus Chair: Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County.
Floor Leader: Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle.
Majority Whip: Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane.
Assistant Floor Leader: Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver.
Asst. Majority Whip: Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah.
Recommended by Democrats, position requires a vote by the full Senate:
President Pro Tempore: Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach.
Vice President Pro Tempore: Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds.
Budget, rules and select committee chairs and vice chairs recommended by the Democrats today are:
Ways & Means Chair: Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam; vice chair: Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Vashon Island.
Transportation Chair: Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way; vice chair: Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens.
Rules Chair: Lt. Gov. Brad Owen; vice chair: Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch.
Select Committee on Education Finance and Results, Co-Chair: Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle; Republican caucus to select a co-chair.
Policy chairs and vice chairs recommended by the Democrats include:
Human Services & Corrections: Sen. Nick Harper, D-Everett; vice chair, Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma.
Agriculture, Trade & Economic Development: Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond; vice chair, Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline.
Government Operations, Tribal Relations & Elections: Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma.
Pre-K-12 Education: Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell; vice chair, Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver.
Labor Commerce & Consumer Protection: Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle; vice chair, Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D- Seattle.
Energy Natural Resources & Marine Waters: Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island; vice chair, Sen. Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane.
Financial Institutions, Housing, Insurance & Telecommunications: Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens; vice chair, Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah.
Workforce Development: Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline; vice chair, Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds.
Judiciary: Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle; vice chair, Sen. Nick Harper, D-Everett.
Higher Education: Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue; vice chair, Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle.
Health, Aging & Long Term Care: Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent; vice chair, Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma.
Environment & Growth Management: Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island.