While the drama today was all in the closely divided state Senate, Democrats in the House, where they have a clear-cut 55-43 majority, also finished electing their committee leaders today.
Democrats say they will split the State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee, giving a committee to one of their most liberal members and another to one of their most conservative members.
They said the sheer volume of the work it handled called for the change. Rep. Sam Hunt of Olympia will chair Government Operations and Elections while Rep. Chris Hurst of Enumclaw, who campaigns as an “Independent Dem,” will run a new panel called Government Accountability and Oversight.
The new committee will deal with government efficiency, including the lean management techniques that Gov.-elect Jay Inslee wants to expand, Hurst said. Its portfolio will also include the newly privatized state liquor system and Washington’s nascent regulatory system for newly legal marijuana.
If the federal government doesn’t object to the voter-approved scheme for regulating and taxing pot, it could be a budget windfall for the state, with billions in revenue. “I intend to collect every penny of it,” Hurst said.
Hurst leaves behind the chairmanship of the public safety committee, which goes to Roger Goodman of Kirkland.
Democrats also opted to return to separate committees for spending and taxes, which had been briefly consolidated under now-Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter. Publicola has some analysis today on what it means that the Democrats have chosen to establish a new Finance Committee on taxes led by Reuven Carlyle of Seattle.
Here are the rest of the committee assignments. Among South Sound lawmakers, Steve Kirby of Tacoma and Larry Seaquist of Gig Harbor will keep their chairmanships of the business and higher education committees, respectively. Dawn Morrell of Puyallup will chair the appropriations subcommittee on health and human services and Kathy Haigh of Shelton will keep leading the education subcommittee. Others received vice-chair slots, including Jake Fey of Tacoma on Transportation and Chris Reykdal of Tumwater on Labor and Workforce Development.