Kent Sen. Keiser rips Republicans' proposal to take control of Senate
By STEVE HUNTER
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
December 11, 2012 · 5:03 PM
State Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, says the Senate Republicans’ proposal to take control of the Senate and divide control of committee chairmanships "will mean the upcoming (legislative) session will be devoid of real progress on critical issues."
Sens. Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue and Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, announced Monday that they are joining the Republicans to give them a 25-24 control of the Senate rather than the Democrats having the majority. The 23 Republicans and two Democrats are calling the group the Majority Coalition Caucus.
“My constituents do not want their legislators playing political games," Keiser said in a statement released Tuesday. "Sadly, the recent power plays by Senate Republicans with the connivance of two conservative Democrats will mean the upcoming session will be devoid of real progress on critical issues. Stalemate and impasse may be goals of this ‘new majority’ but it certainly isn’t what our citizens want us to achieve."
The Majority Coalition Caucus proposes to have six Democrat-led committees, six committees led by Republicans and three panels that are evenly split between the two parties. Those committees will have no more than a one-vote majority. The 2013 legislative session begins Jan. 14.
Tom, who will serve as the coalition’s majority leader, said during a news conference in Olympia that “the public is hungry for us to come together, to work together in a collaborative manner and that’s exactly what this coalition is trying to accomplish. We want a cooperative relationship and making sure that we work across party lines.”
Keiser, who chairs the the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee, reportedly would lose her chair to Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville.
“If Republicans were to control the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee, I am particularly concerned about the fate of the Reproductive Fairness Act, Medicaid expansion and key elements of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare," Keiser said. “If past statements and actions from the Republican caucus are any indication, Washington citizens in need of health care have much to fear from this new so-called ‘philosophical majority.’"
Tom said he hopes other Democrats will join the coalition. Keiser won't make that move.
“My constituents want and need real progress," Keiser said. "They want opportunity, equity and fairness for their families and their children. They need excellent public education, health care and transportation. We have work to do, but political gamesmanship will shove real progress aside."
Keiser, who represents District 33, said it's obvious which philosopher Tom, Sheldon and the Republicans follow.
“Niccolò Machiavelli, who counseled the use of brute force and deceit with the excuse ‘the ends justify the means,’ appears to be the philosopher followed by this ‘new majority,'" Keiser said.
Carrie Rodriguez of The Kirkland Reporter contributed to this article.Contact Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.