36th District Representatives Gael Tarleton and Reuven Carlyle.

Carlyle, Tarleton get on board with important committees; Kohl-Welles stripped of hers

In the State House of Representatives, 36th District's Rep. Reuven Carlyle and Rep. Gael Tarleton have become part of particularly strong committees.

Notably, Carlyle is chair of the newly created House Finance Committee and as a member of the Appropriations Committee.

The former, all powerful Ways and Means Committee, which was in charge of both revenue and appropriations and where often many budget decisions lived or died, was split up into these two committees.

So, now as chair of the House Finance Committee, Carlyle will oversee all revenues and tax exemptions for the state. And he will also have an influence on the appropriations. As one headline punned, just "Call him Reuven-ue Carlyle."

He'll have to live up to his name, too, as he faces both a $900 million budget shortfall and a court decision declaring that Washington is breaking its constitutional duty by underfunding K-12 education -- meaning the Legislature will have to scrounge up an extra $1 billion.

Carlyle will also be a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education and the Government Operations and Elections Committee.

Meanwhile, Tarleton got on board with some fairly important committees, too. She will be a member of the Rules, Higher Education, Technology and Economic Development and Transportation Committees.

The Transportation Committee might play a particularly key role, as Gov. Christine Gregoire is planning to put together a transportation package she says will rival the multi-billion dollar deal she helped pass in 2005, according to an interview she did with the Associated press. Some have worried her focus will be too much on roads and too little on transit.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, things are a little more dicey.

Since fiscally conservative Democrats Sen. Rodney Tom of Bellevue and Tim Sheldon of Potlatch joined forces with Republicans to create a new caucus, the "Majority Coalition Caucus," committees may be rearranged entirely, and Tom will be taking over for Sen. Ed Murray as Senate Majority Leader.

In addition to Republicans being placed on some of the most powerful committees, Sen Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36) will be deposed as chair of the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee. In her place, the coalition has picked Republican Janea Holmquist Newbry of Moses Lake.

Kohl-Welles said if Republicans were given the committee, she would "fear where they would take our state."

In a statement, she had the following to say about the newly formed coalition and their recent move:

“Forcing half the chamber to accept a take-it-or-leave-it plan is not the way you foster collaboration, trust or respect. That’s a recipe for confrontation, not collaboration ... It takes more than the defection of two conservative Democrats to make a proposal bipartisan. If one side says it’s bipartisan but the other side says it’s not, then it’s not."

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