What is the “Majority Caucus” Running the Washington State Senate?

Washington State Senate Chamber. Image – Lincolnite, Wikimedia

Several non-Washington State folks have asked “What is the new Majority Caucus in the Washington State Senate? The description below from Wikipedia captures it pretty well.  Meanwhile, see our earlier story “Will Senate Coup Impact Transportation Issues?” and the story  about the outcome of the Transportation Committee being co-chaired by a Member of each party.

After the November 2012 elections, Republicans gained one seat in the Washington State Senate, reducing the Democratic majority to 26 out of 49 seats, a two-seat majority. On December 10, 2012, two Democratic state senators, Tim Sheldon and Rodney Tom, publicly announced that they would caucus with the Republicans to create the Majority Coalition Caucus (MCC) with 25 of 49 seats.

The MCC functions much like a coalition government, consisting of two Democrats (Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon) and twenty-three Republicans to form a bare majority of the forty-nine members of the Washington State Senate.

As a majority caucus, the MCC appoints chairs and members of the twelve policy and three fiscal committees that play a leading role in considering and advancing legislation, much like U.S. Senate committees. The MCC offered committee leadership to both Republicans and Democrats, with six Republican chairs, six Democratic chairs, and three committees led by co-chairs, one Republican and one Democrat. Democrats rejected to chair or co-chair all of committees offered to them, except three: Steve Hobbs will chair the Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee, Brian Hatfield will chair the Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development Committee, and Tracey Eide will co-chair the Transportation Committee with Curtis King.

The “defection” of the two Democratic Senators caused quite a stir, and it will be interesting to see how fiscal and social issues play out.

Learn more from our other Washington State/Cascadia stories.