As outlined this morning, Hatfield will chair the restructured Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee, which he had led under a different configuration the past four years. Hobbs continues as chair of the Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. Eide, who is Senate Democrats’ floor leader, will co-chair the Senate Transportation with Republican Sen. Curtis King of Yakima.
“I think there is still a little bitterness over how it was done (by the new Senate Majority Coalition Caucus) but it’s not aimed at us,” Hatfield said of the 24 Democrats remaining in the Democratic Caucus. He spoke in the Senate wings a few minutes before Lt. Gov. Brad Owen gaveled the Senate into session.
The coalition includes two Democrats - including soon-to-be Senate Majority LeaderRodney Tom of Medina and Tim Shelton of Potlatch - and 23 Republicans. We’ll see what sparks fly, if any, on the floor. Democrats could offer a motion to share all committees equally.
UPDATE: Hatfield made clear that he, Hobbs and Eide are not going to be joining the other caucus like Tom and Sheldon did. Eide told Andrew Garber of the Seattle Times she'd given a lot of thought before making the decision and that Transportation had always been a bipartisan panel.
Eventually the divided Senate must reach agreement with the Democrat-led House on solutions to a $2 billion budget problem during the 105-day session.