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12/19/2012 2:58:00 PM
Senator Evans-Parlette re-elected as caucus chair
Senator Parlette
Senator Parlette

Kacie Thrift
Staff writer




The Senator for the 12th District, Linda Evans Parlette, announced in late November she was re-elected as caucus chair by the Senate Republicans. This is a two-year term that will run through 2014.

In a recent press release Evans said, "It is an honor to continue to serve as caucus chair, particularly during these difficult economic times. What's needed in Olympia is leadership and civility. I've long said that my goal is to be a voice of reason, both in the Legislature as well as my district."

Parlette said the main task of the caucus is to review bills that are coming up to vote. Since everyone can't be an expert on every bill, there are committees that are specific to categories of bills that come and review the bill for caucus members.

"If the bill is health related then the health committee will review that with members. That's sort of what you do in a caucus and I chair all those meetings," Parlette said.

As caucus chair, Parlette's responsibilities include calling the caucus into session, setting the agenda for caucus meetings, and presiding over caucus meetings. She will also represent the caucus on operational matters and serve as the lead Republican on the Senate Facilities and Operations Committee.

This is not the first time Parlette, a Chelan High School graduate, has been caucus chair. She has served as Senate Republican Caucus Chair, one of the top two leadership positions of the caucus, since 2006. Before serving as caucus chair, Parlette served in leadership as deputy leader, deputy majority leader and deputy majority floor leader.

"I was slow to put my name in for caucus chair this year. I chaired the reorganization meeting and we have a very healthy discussion with our caucus members and our new senators about where we want to go as a caucus, Parlette said. "I made the decision to put my name in the hat and I feel honored my peers re-elected me in that position."

This year, as caucus chair, Parlette will be working with the new Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. She is familiar with working with Inslee since he used to represent eastern Washington as a congressman. Parlette said she is looking forward to the Governor releasing who is going to be on his team, along with the agency heads.

As far as an adjustment period with having a new governor to work with, Parlette is ready to jump right in to things.

"If you heard our current governor [Christine Gregoire], she said you need to come out right away and get moving. The elections have been almost a month ago. I thought we would know more by now but we will have to wait and see," Parlette said.

When talking about the recent elections, Parlette expressed how she is excited to have a new 12th District representative, Brad Hawkins.

"That's always a surprise when somebody beats an incumbent but I think it's exciting to have a young person in an elected position. I always say whatever mess is out there it's the younger people that will inherit it so it's always great to have a younger person involved thinking long term," Parlette said. "This is a good thing."

Parlette was elected to the State House of Representatives in 1996 and 1988, and the State Senate in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. For the last two years, she has been focusing on the Constitutional Amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 8221, which amends the phase phase-down debt limit percentage in three steps from 9 to 8 percent and modify the calculation date, calculation period, and the term general state revenues starting on July 1, 2014,

Now that SJR 8221 has passed, Parlette is ready to focus on something new. She said she has a long list and needs to take some time to figure out what she wants to focus on next.

One of the issues she will be focusing on is the budget. Parlette said when working with the budget, the first thing to look at is what costs they don't have funds for and remove those costs.

"The first thing we have to do is go in and see what we don't have the money to fund so that we will be able to move forward on what we have to do which is meeting the obligations. We were told as a state we weren't fully funding K-12 education and that is something we need to work on," Parlette said.

The primary duty of the 2013 Legislature is to adopt a two-year operating budget that will be effective from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015, Parlette recently stated in a newsletter. She said the operating budget funds most of what she considers to be government services such as education, social services, and the corrections system.

There is a $900 million deficit forecasted for the next budget cycle. This does not include costs associated with the Supreme Court decision that said the state is not fully funding basic education. Parlette said because of the state's need to better fund education, some legislators are considering next year's effective budget deficit to be $2 billion.

On Dec. 10, Parlette took part in a news conference announcing a bipartisan coalition will lead the state Senate in the 2013 legislative session. The group will be known as the "Majority Coalition Caucus," and will set the Senate's agenda and operating rules for the 2013 session.

A recent press release from Parlette said the structure of committees underscored the coalition's emphasis on bipartisanship. Of the Senate's 15 policy and fiscal committees, six will be chaired Democrats, six by Republicans, and three awill be co-chaired.

"I have always said that the best policy comes from a closely-divided Legislature. It forces people to listen to their counterparts across the aisle and helps take the politics out of governing," Parlette said.

Kacie Thrift may be reached at 782-3781 or reporter@cashmerevalleyrecord.com.







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