Issaquah legislators receive key commitee assignments

December 26, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 26, 2012

Local lawmakers received or retained influential committee assignments — and the ability to shape state policy on education, transportation and other priorities — in the next legislative session.

Recent changes in how the state Senate operates changed prospective roles for local legislators. Though Democrats claim more members in the Senate, Republicans announced a plan in early December to instead put a bipartisan caucus in place to run the chamber.

With help from Sens. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, Republicans received a 25-24 majority. Under the proposal, Tom is poised to serve as majority leader and oust Democrats’ chosen majority leader, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle. (Until redistricting last year, Tom, a former Republican, represented some Issaquah neighborhoods.)

The shakeup put Mercer Island Republican Steve Litzow in the chairman spot on the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. Litzow represents Issaquah neighborhoods inside the 41st Legislative District, a suburban area from Mercer Island to Sammamish.

“I will work not only with my colleagues, outside education experts and advocates, but most importantly with teachers, administrators and parents to make sure each child in our state gets the education he or she needs to succeed,” he said in a statement.

Leaders assigned freshman Senate Democrat Mark Mullet to the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, Transportation Committee and, in a nod to the outgoing Issaquah city councilman’s former career as a Bank of America currency trader, to the vice chairman spot on the Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee.

Mullet initially scored a leadership role in the chamber — assistant majority whip, or the lawmaker responsible for tracking legislation and lining up votes on bills — but additional changes in committee and leadership assignments could yet occur as Senate leaders prepare for the session.

In the state House of Representatives, Issaquah Republican Chad Magendanz is the assistant ranking member on the Education Committee, and serves on the Higher Education and Technology & Economic Development panels. The focus on education fits the outgoing Issaquah School Board member’s interests and hews closely to the assignments for the current representative, outgoing Republican Glenn Anderson.

Magendanz and Mullet represent the 5th Legislative District, a combination of suburban and rural areas stretched from Issaquah to Snoqualmie Pass, and from Carnation to Black Diamond.

The other House member for the district, North Bend Republican Jay Rodne, earned posts on the Health Care & Wellness and Transportation committees, and as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, the panel responsible for legislation related to criminal justice and other legal issues.

The representatives for the 41st District, Mercer Island Democrat Judy Clibborn and Renton Democrat Marcie Maxwell, also received key committee posts.

House leaders selected Maxwell for the powerful Appropriations Committee, as well as spots on the Education and Technology & Economic Development panels. Maxwell, a former Renton School Board member, also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education for K-12, early learning and higher education funding issues.

“One of the biggest challenges facing lawmakers in Olympia this session is how we’re going to generate needed revenue for schools,” she said in a statement. “We simply cannot meet our responsibility to education through cuts to vital programs.”

Clibborn is poised to continue on the powerful Transportation Committee as chairwoman, and remain on the Health Care & Wellness Committee.

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