Seattle Magazine recently named their picks for Most Influential People of 2015. The biggest surprise was the inclusion of the Majority Coalition Caucus and my work on education funding reform and harmonizing the competing marijuana markets.
The Conservatives Winning Year
In a divided legislature, the side that wants fewer changes to the status quo wins more battles. And to its advantage, the Senate GOP of the Washington State Legislature had a drastically more limited agenda than the Democrats in the 2015 session. Democrats wanted to tax capital gains, trim tax breaks, raise the minimum wage and seriously flirted with trimming carbon emissions—all of which the Senate GOP opposed with success. Meanwhile, the Senate Republicans’ chief wish was to cut tuition at the state’s colleges, which it accomplished.
The mastermind of the GOP’s success this year was Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, a conservative wheat farmer from Ritzville who never met a tax hike he didn’t hate. Schoesler kept a tight grip on a coalition of hard-core conservatives sprinkled with a half-dozen moderates.
The Senate’s other GOP stars include Andy Hill of Redmond and John Braun of Centralia. The two led the Republicans’ budget-negotiating team, which stuck to its guns in tense budget talks that extended into triple overtime.
Senators Ann Rivers of La Center and Bruce Dammeier of Puyallup worked to shift the state’s school-levy burdens from local districts to the state. This will be the top budget issue of the 2016 legislative session, given that the two parties don’t agree on whether extra revenue will be needed to fully fund schools.
Rivers is the rare non-moderate in the Senate GOP caucus able to shepherd major Senate bills through the Democrat-controlled House, and she led the Senate’s efforts to successfully merge the state’s recreational and medical marijuana system into one network. Given that Dammeier is running for Pierce County executive, Rivers could inherit an even bigger role in this matter next session. If her work this year is any indication, this could prime the GOP for further success in 2016. —John Stang
Posted on October 28, 2015. Edited by Lisa Wogan and Linda Morgan.
The full article can be found here http://www.seattlemag.com/article/seattles-most-influential-people-2015?page=0,3