The 2013 Washington State Legislature is underway and TVW is streaming live from the Senate floor.
As expected, the Senate Republicans took control of the chamber on opening day as two Democrats, Sens. Rodney Tom (D-Medina) and Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch), joined them to form a majority coalition.
The Senate voted 25-23 to adopt new rules that will see each party chair six committees, but the Republican-controlled majority will chair the most powerful committees, including the budget, education and healthcare.
The Olympian reports Democrats have agreed to co-chair three committees – Sen. Brian Hatfield (D-Raymond) on the Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee, Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) on the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, and Sen. Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way) on the Transportation Committee.
Earlier, members of the coalition rejected a power-sharing counter proposal that would have seen a co-chair from each party on all committees.
Tom, the coalition’s choice for majority leader, called for a tone of cooperation and collaboration.
“We have a lot pressing issues in front of us and it is going to take all of us working together side by side.”
Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Federal Way) said it was a sad day for the Senate and called it “politics of the other Washington.”
“The voter’s choice apparently doesn’t matter here today,” she said.
Sheldon was elected president pro tempore of the Senate while Sen. Paull Shin (D-Edmonds) was elected vice president pro tempore.
The divided Senate will have to find agreement with the Democrat-controlled House during the 105-day session to find answers for a $2 billion budget problem and a court-mandated increase in education funding.