By Randi Becker
Over the past few months, I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of folks in the Second Legislative District. The single biggest message I heard was that people want their elected officials to work together; they’re tired of finger-pointing and partisan bickering. I don’t blame them. The toxic atmosphere we’ve seen in Washington, D.C. in particular is disappointing and at times depressing.
That’s why I’m all the more optimistic about developments that took place in the state Senate last week. Members of both parties came together to form a group, known as the Majority Coalition Caucus, that will lead the Senate in the 2013 legislative session.
This coming year will see senators working together across party lines like never before, especially within the Senate’s 15 policy and fiscal committees. That’s because six committee chairmanships have been offered to Democrats and six committees will be chaired by Republicans. Three will be co-chaired by members of each party. Neither party will hold more than a one-vote advantage over the other on these committees.
What does this mean? Generally, all of the committees are led by the party that has a majority of members in the 49-seat Senate. Having members of both parties lead committees ensures that all viewpoints will be represented and that ideas will be developed through collaboration and consensus.
This bipartisan plan is a direct result of the feedback I and other members of our coalition received from constituents who want to see more cooperation in Olympia. I’m excited about the prospects of the Senate truly representing all Washingtonians, and I hope this new approach to governing will become a model for the federal government and other states.
State Sen. Randi Becker, a Republican from Eatonville, represents the Second District, which includes rural Pierce and Thurston counties.