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December 13, 2012 at 6:00 AM

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Editorial Round-Up: Washington newspapers cautiously optimistic about Senate's new Majority Coalition Caucus

Editorial Round-Up: Newspapers Cautiously Optimistic About Senate Power Change

This week, two Democrats handed power to the Republicans in the Washington Senate by joining with them to create the Majority Coalition Caucus. Below are excerpts from local editorial pages around the state. The general sentiment? We hope this new power-sharing structure is effective. Read on...

Storified by SeattleTimes Opinion · Wed, Dec 12 2012 18:20:10

THE ANNOUNCEMENT:
Senate Coalition News Conference - TVW VideoA coalition of Republican and Democratic senators holds a news conference to discuss Senate operations during the 2013 legislative session.
Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. Above is a link to TVW's video of the press conference that introduced a new majority in the Washington Senate. Here's a link to the Majority Coalition Caucus' proposed rules, which include splitting committee chairmanships evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, will be the new majority leader. Fellow Democratic Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch will the the President Pro Tem.
THE EDITORIALS:
Editorial: Majority coalition caucus in state Senate is a welcome changeTHE Senate coup in Olympia is a welcome development. The crossover of two moderate Democrats has created a legitimate Republican-Democrat...
The Seattle Times:

"The new caucus is a promising experiment. It is also a check on the power of the governor’s office and the House of Representatives, both of which remain firmly held by Democrats.

It’s encouraging that the Senate Democrats have acknowledged they are a minority.

In turn, the new caucus must deliver what it has promised: a sustainable budget and a commitment to funding education."

Editorial: Bipartisan coalition in state Senate bodes well for educationWASHINGTON residents want the Legislature to prioritize education, both by fully funding the spectrum from early learning to higher educa...
The Seattle Times:
"A strong start is the ascension of Mercer Island Republican Sen. Steve Litzow to chair the Early Learning and K-12 Education
Committee.

Removing Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, from atop the education committee was key to moving forward. McAuliffe and her counterpart in the House, Education Chair Sharon Tomiko Santos, D-Seattle, used their leadership prerogative last session to weaken or kill promising reforms.

Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, has pledged to grow the education portion of the state budget, a welcome template in keeping with the state Supreme Court’s McCleary v. Washington mandate to amply fund education."

A healthy check on Democratic power in OlympiaBy now - a day after they handed the state Senate to Republicans - Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon will have been excoriated as traitors...
The News Tribune:

"By now - a day after they handed the state Senate to Republicans - Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon will have been excoriated as traitors, turncoats, back-stabbers and double-crossers by their fellow Democrats.

Conniving rascals they may be, but they’ve done the state of Washington a big favor... Until Monday, 2013 was shaping up as another dreary stretch of same-old, same-old Democratic hegemony over House, Senate and governorship. The party’s leadership has grown a little too comfortable, a little too arrogant, a little too generous to public unions and other favored interest groups."

"It’s a shame that Sen. Ed Murray had to be the biggest casualty of all this. He would have been majority leader had the Democrats held the Senate. A Seattle liberal, Murray has been one of the most reasonable and flexible Democratic leaders in the Legislature... Now it looks as if he’ll have more time for his run against Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn - an enterprise in which we truly wish him well."

Editorial: Switches in Senate hold potential for solutions - The Spokesman-ReviewIt wasn't in the news much here, but a recent recount in a legislative race in Clark County ultimately determined control of the Washingt...
The Spokesman-Review:
"Party politics aside, we are encouraged by the potential for governing from the middle."

"There’s no denying this political coup introduces turmoil in Olympia. But better this occur at the outset, so that issues can be fully debated, rather than rushed at the finish line.

Our advice is to give it a chance. It just might work."
Columbian.com - In Our View: Sharing the PowerWho's in charge of the Legislature? Turns out, this is a pleasant question. The answer is everyone, because both parties will share contr...
The Columbian:
"Also affecting our corner of the state is the geographical component of the coalition caucus. Typically, King County kingpins controlled Senate committees, especially the important ones. Now, committee chairs have been chosen from throughout the state. That, too, is good for the entire state."

"Democrats, of course, are furious. State Democratic Party chairman Dwight Pelz said, "Rodney Tom is a Republican now." No, to the contrary, Tom is whatever Tom says he is, and whatever his voting constituents deem him to be. For now, we can call him an innovator of balanced power."
Power grab won't necessarily solve anythingPublished December 12, 2012 Normally, when two Democrats join forces with 23 Republicans to wrest control of a legislative chamber, it's ...
The Olympian:

"It’s a plan with possibilities, but one unlikely to achieve. Whatever budget the Senate Republicans approve, they still have to get agreement from the state House, which is strongly held by Democrats, and whose temperament might be less than acquiescent.

A big fight at the end between the House and Senate is just as likely now, if not guaranteed.


History shows that when a single party controls state government, the Legislature more often gets its business done without a special session."

Republican power grab good for Mid-Columbia | Editorials | Tri-CityHerald.comThe minority Republicans, with the aid of two fiscally conservative Democrats, wrested control of the state Senate from the majority Mond...
The Tri-City Herald:

"Tom was telling anyone who would listen Monday that the deal was about policy, not power. We're not sure what that means, because in politics, it's those with power who create policy. Frankly, that's what makes us hopeful."

"With only Democrats in control of both houses and the executive branch, the Washington Education Association and other public sector unions wield enough power to quash needed reforms. This new way forward provides some much needed geographical and philosophical balance"

Senate power play could bring bipartisan cooperationA power play by two conservative Democrats - Sen. Rodney Tom of Bellevue and Tim Sheldon of Potlach - could move the state Senate from th...
Walla Walla Union-Bulletin:
"Sen. Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla — and the Senate Republican leader until last month — expects the new Majority Coalition will function successfully. Hewitt, when he was still GOP leader, worked to broker the deal between Republicans and the conservative Democrats. Ultimately, he sees the framework as strong enough to work in the long run."
HeraldNet.com - Hope for a new state senatePolitics is semantic. One partisan's palace coup is another's collaborative solution to an uncertain majority. As George Orwell wrote, "P...
The Herald (Everett):
"The new 'Majority Coalition Caucus' sounds like an antidote to partisan inertia. A majority is (little d) democratic and 'coalition' telegraphs war's good guys ('Coalition forces hammered the Taliban.') Ideally, a label informs a governing style and a focus on outcomes benefitting everyone. But as Orwell warned, de-fanging partisan language doesn't de-fang partisans."

"The new governing experiment is intriguing, but outcomes are the true measure. With committee chairs buttering both parties, there will be plenty of praise or blame to spread come spring."


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