Sheldon applauds bipartisan efforts of Senate as cutoff arrives

Today marked the final day of the 2013 legislative session for the Senate to pass bills originating from its Rules Committee, and Sen. Tim Sheldon was amazed by the level of bipartisanship on all of the bills that reached the Senate chamber for a vote.

“In my twenty-two years as a state legislator, I have never experienced anything like this,” said Sheldon, D-Potlatch. “Having been part of the majority under different leadership during the past few years, I know how the former majority leader dictated everything from which bills moved to the floor to how that group of senators would vote. Those days are gone now.”

Sheldon, one of two Democratic senators in the Majority Coalition Caucus, intimated that he did not know what his role would be when the new bipartisan coalition assumed leadership of the Senate but was honored when the Senate elected him as President pro tempore. Shortly after the session started Jan. 14, his role was clearly defined, and he was surprised by how the new group conducted business.

“In the Majority Coalition Caucus, we vote on everything, and everyone has equal say in what gets to the floor, and ultimately passes the Senate,” Sheldon said. “It is very refreshing that we are acting like government should. Ideas are explored, opinions are respected and no one is afraid to speak out in support or against any proposed legislation.”

While Sheldon does not serve on the Commerce and Labor or Trade and Economic Development Committees, he singled out Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, and Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, for their efforts to help bring more private-sector jobs into the 35th Legislative District he represents. Sheldon was the chair of the committee in a previous legislative session.

“Whether we talk about improving workers’ compensation for employees, reducing the regulatory burden on employers or even trying to reduce the costs of capital projects in rural areas, Senators Holmquist Newbry and Braun have been very effective leaders,” Sheldon said. “They both held hearings on bills sponsored by the minority caucus, and passed every bill that fit with their focus on jobs, regardless of who sponsored the bill.”

Sheldon looks forward to working with his fellow senators in the Majority Coalition Caucus, and can’t wait to see what happens next. “For the first time in a long time, I am very excited about the rest of a legislative session.”