After illness forced him to step aside as House Republican leader in mid-April, state Rep. Richard DeBolt of Chehalis enjoyed a short stint as a rank-and-file member. Time is up on that role: The Republican caucus just appointed the nine-term Chehalis lawmaker as ranking GOP member on the House Capital Budget Committee.
DeBolt, who he led the Republican caucus in 2004 and again during 2006-13, moves into the role formerly played by Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake. Warnick was named caucus chair during the reorganization that put Rep. Dan Kristiansen of Snohomish into DeBolt’s old role after he stepped down.
In his new role DeBolt will work with Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, on state construction budgets.
Earlier this year, Dunshee and Warnick had worked with Senate counterparts to craft a $3.6 billion capital construction budget for 2013-15 that included about $28.2 million for flood-control efforts along the Chehalis River, which DeBolt had sought.
DeBolt and Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, said at the time the funding came out of a recommendation by a governor’s work-group that represented the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis and Thurston, Lewis and Grays Harbor counties, and it had endorsement of all members of the Chehalis Basin Flood Authority.
“Too often in government we see partisan fighting instead of problem solving. On this issue all 12 legislators whose districts the Chehalis River runs through came together with a unified voice to help get this done,” DeBolt said in a statement.
Dunshee said the flood-control money was for projects, including a weir rather than a large dam high up on the river’s headwaters. It also had money for some home buyouts.
Despite the comity on this year’s capital budget, DeBolt sometimes tangled with the liberal and outspoken Dunshee, who has a strong environmental record that often is at odds with the House Republicans’ deregulation goals.
DeBolt's role change comes as his onetime 20th district seatmate, Rep. Gary Alexander, says he plans to leave the House after the Nov. 5 election. Alexander, who is running for re-election to a second position, Thurston County auditor, first was elected to the House in 1996, the same year as DeBolt, but redistricting moved Alexander into the 2nd district for the 2012 elections.