Much of the public discussion and advocacy surrounding the budget writing process often tends to focus on inputs, or the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on a particular program. The Legislature has an equally important duty to study the outputs, or the actual results of the way they spend taxpayer dollars. Accountability and transparency are critical to gaining the respect and trust of the public.
Announces committee leadership for 2015 legislative session
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus announced today Senate committee leadership for the 2015 legislative session including the addition of a new committee that will focus on government accountability and reform issues.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler said, “The committee leadership reflects the exceptional talent in this caucus who have already gotten great results for the people of this state. Over the past two years they’ve proven we can work with Democrats to prioritize education and balance the budget while protecting hardworking taxpayers.”
Schoesler said that the addition of a new committee to oversee accountability and reform issues is a priority for the caucus. “We have a crisis of confidence and competence,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “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.”
Senator-elect Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, was appointed to chair the new Senate Accountability and Reform Committee.
In contrast, House Democrat leadership announced this week the dissolution of their Government Accountability and Oversight panel. “I’m proud that we have made government accountability a top priority,” Schoesler said.
Dec. 10 marks the second anniversary of the founding of the Majority Coalition Caucus in the Senate when two Democrats joined with Republicans to form the coalition. The 2014 elections gave Republicans a clear majority in the Senate and full chairmanships for the committees.
“This does not change our commitment to collaboration with the minority Democrats in the Senate,” Schoesler said, “We continue to welcome any Senate member who wants to make education the top priority and keep state government living within its means.”
Senate committee chairs and vice chairs are as follows:
Senate Accountability and Reform Committee deals with issues involving the management of government, including transparency, efficiency programs and strategic planning. Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, chair and Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, vice chair.
Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee considers issues relating to agricultural land and production, food safety and policies and programs that affect economic development in rural areas of the state. Senator-elect Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, chair and Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, vice chair.
Senate Commerce and Labor Committee considers issues relating to the workers’ compensation system, the unemployment insurance system, collective bargaining, professional regulation and consumer protection. Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, chair and Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, vice chair.
Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee considers policy and finance issues related to schools and learning from birth through twelfth grade, and preparation for later learning experiences. Sen. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, chair and Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, vice chair.
Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee considers issues relating to power generation and transmission, water quality, environmental pollution, recycling, telephone and Internet service. Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, chair and Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, vice chair.
Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee deals with issues concerning banks, credit, lending, insurance companies, financial markets and multi-family housing. Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, chair and Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, vice chair.
Senate Governmental Operations Committee considers issues relating to elections and campaigns, public records and public meetings, and the operation of state and local governments. Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, chair.
Senate Health Care Committee deals with issues concerning the state’s health care system, including health care facilities, health care professions, long-term care, state implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act and medical marijuana. Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, chair and Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, vice chair.
Senate Higher Education Committee considers issues concerning public colleges and universities and private higher education institutions. Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, chair and Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, vice chair.
Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee deals with issues involving supported housing, social-service programs, foster care, youth and adult mental health issues. Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, chair and Senator-elect Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, vice chair.
Senate Law and Justice Committee deals with issues of civil and criminal law and corrections, including prisons and jails, criminal penalties, sentencing, and oversight of courts and law enforcement. Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, chair and Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, vice chair.
Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee considers issues relating to fish and wildlife, parks and recreation, state lands management, mining, forestry and fire prevention. Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, chair and Sen. Brian Dansel, R-Republic, vice chair.
Senate Rules Committee considers bills reported from policy and fiscal committees and determines the scheduling of their consideration on the Senate floor. Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, will lead the MCC majority on the committee. Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch will serve as vice chair and Lt. Governor Brad Owen, D-Shelton, will serve as chair.
Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee deals with issues regarding tourism, international trade, economic development incentives, technical assistance for business. Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, chair and Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, vice chair.
Senate Transportation Committee deals with issues involving the movement of goods and people, and oversees the state highways budget. Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, chair and Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, vice chair for the transportation budget and Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, vice chair.
Senate Ways and Means Committee writes the state’s operating and capital budgets, oversees tax policy, and reviews all bills that affect state operating and capital-budget spending. Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, chair, Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, vice chair, Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, vice chair, education finance and Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, vice chair, capital budget.
The 2015 legislative session begins Monday, Jan. 12, and will last 105 days.