Republicans break with tradition, name Democrat chair of Senate committee
Olympia, WA - 1/14/03 - State Senate Majority Leader Jim West, R-Spokane,
on Monday took the unusual step of appointing Democratic state Sen.
Tim Sheldon chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee, a
panel that could play a crucial role in the 2003 session.
The party that controls either the House or the Senate forms the committees and installs the committee chairs, who are typically members of the majority party. Republicans, who took control of the Senate Monday, broke with that tradition by naming a Democrat chair of one of their committees.
Sheldon is director of the Economic Development Council of Mason County, and he also runs a family tree farm in Potlatch, a community on Hood Canal. Sheldon chaired the Senate Economic Development & Telecommunications Committee in 2002 and 2001, when Democrats controlled the Senate.
He has frequently broken with the Senate Democratic caucus over the years and sided with Republicans, particularly on business-related issues.
In a prepared statement, West said Sheldon has demonstrated a willingness to work in a bipartisan manner on economic issues. "He has a long track record of supporting the working families and businesses of our state," West said.
Senate Republicans say their top priority is restoring growth to the state economy, which has been mired in recession for two years.
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