Friday, December 5, 2008

Schual-Berke seeking greener pastures among Kiwis

Rep. Shay Schual-Berke is busily packing up what's left of her Olympia office and preparing to leave the Legislature after serving the 33rd Legislative District for more than 10 years. But she isn't settling down for a life of leisure in Des Moines. Rather, she's venturing to distant lands with her husband who recently accepted a job in - where else? - New Zealand, of course.

When asked what she'll miss most about life as a legislator, Rep. Schual-Berke said it will probably be the buzz and excitement of being part of policy discussions that really matter.

"I'm really proud of the things I was able to do here," says Rep. Schual-Berke. "Whether it was advocating for the children in our welfare system, helping people without access to health care services, folks victimized by payday loan schemes... I've always tried to fight for the underdog."

But retiring from the Legislature will give Rep. Schual-Berke an opportunity to watch her children as they grow into young adults and enjoy new adventures with her husband. Perhaps she'll even have time to enjoy some of New Zealand's increasingly popular wine!

Jim McIntire says good-bye... kinda

Rep. Jim McIntire is hanging up his hat as State Rep. for Seattle's 46th district but isn't going far. As the state's Treasurer-elect, chances are he'll continue to cross paths with his current colleagues on a regular basis. As he prepares to take up shop in the Treasurer's office, Rep. McIntire says:

It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Washington with so many dedicated and talented colleagues. Together we have accomplished much during the past 10 years. As Treasurer, I look forward to working with the Legislature and the Governor to plan for an even better financial future for Washington.

Rep. Lantz waxes poetic about time in Legislature

Rep. Pat Lantz from Gig Harbor has served in the Legislature since 1997. Joe Turner of the News Tribune wrote up a great summary of Rep. Lantz's time in the House and a preview of what she'll do with her newfound free-time. Word is she'll volunteer with Washington's Heritage Center Trust and focus on one of her great passions - poetry.

In Pat's words:
It’s been quite a ride. As a legislator, I’ve seen such a spectrum of events - from the dot com boom and bust, to the 9-11 attacks and their societal and political ramifications, to protecting our civil liberties for the past 12 years. I am proud of my steadfast service to my community and our state. I am pleased, too, with my accomplishments in advocating for access to justice, fending off library censorship, addressing domestic violence, and raising awareness for the need of a healthy Puget Sound, including examining the controversial practice of geoduck farming. I didn’t have the luxury of always being in the clear majority, so I am proud of the negotiating skills I honed over the years. For certain, I have had the pleasure of working with a tremendous group of people, many of whom are as passionate as I am about good governance. I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for anything.

Retiring members start bidding farewell

This week is Assembly Days and legislators are in town ramping up for the 2009 session. For members looking ahead to retirement, however, this is the week they come to say farewell to their colleagues and pack up their offices. Before they head off into the sunset, however, we thought we'd try to capture some parting thoughts and words of wisdom. Starting with Rep. Fromhold...

Rep. Bill Fromhold from Vancouver is retiring after serving four terms. He's going to pursue a business partnership with his wife, Marcia.

About his time in the Legislature, he says:

I have appreciated the rare opportunity to serve in the capacity I have, especially on the Education Appropriations, Appropriations, and Capital Budget committees. Working together with my colleagues and staff to get things done for the people of Washington has been both a gratifying and humbling experience. I may be moving on, but I know the good work will continue.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Understanding the state budget just got easier...

...thanks to a great new site put together by the Legislative Evaluation and Accountability Program committee and the Governor's Office of Financial Management. One visit provides a quick snapshot of state spending and revenue, as well as links to much more detailed information on everything from agency expenditures to revenue forecasts and more.

H/T to Joe Turner at the News Tribune for pointing this out to folks.

New committee chairs are now official

Legislators in the House D Caucus finally approved the committee structure and chairs for the 2009-2011 session. Committees and Chairs are:

Agriculture and Natural Resources: Brian Blake (Aberdeen)
Audit Review and Oversight: Mark Miloscia (Federal Way)
Capital Budget: Hans Dunshee (Snohomish)
Commerce and Labor: Steve Conway (Tacoma)
Community and Economic Development and Trade: Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney (Seattle)
Early Learning and Children’s Services: Ruth Kagi (Lake Forest Park)
Ecology and Parks: Dave Upthegrove (Des Moines)
Education: Dave Quall (Mount Vernon)
Education Appropriations: Kathy Haigh (Shelton)
Environmental Health: Tom Campbell (Roy)
Finance: Ross Hunter (Medina)
Financial Institutions and Insurance: Steve Kirby (Tacoma)
General Government Appropriations: Jeannie Darneille (Tacoma)
Health and Human Services Appropriations: Eric Pettigrew (Seattle)
Health Care and Wellness: Eileen Cody (Seattle)
Higher Education: Deb Wallace (Vancouver)
Human Services: Mary Lou Dickerson (Seattle)
Judiciary: Jamie Pedersen (Seattle)
Local Government and Housing: Geoff Simpson (Covington)
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness: Christopher Hurst (Enumclaw)
Rules: Frank Chopp (Seattle)
State Government and Tribal Affairs: Sam Hunt (Olympia)
Technology, Energy and Communications: John McCoy (Tulalip)
Transportation: Judy Clibborn (Mercer Island)
Ways and Means: Kelli Linville (Bellingham)

Additionally, two vice chairs were also selected:
Ways and Means: Mark Ericks (Bothell)
Capital Budget: Timm Ormsby (Spokane)

Note the major change in committee structure with the creation of the Ways and Means committee. It replaces what was the Appropriations Committee. Now, the Education Appropriations, General Government Appropriations, and Health and Human Services Appropriations committees are standing committees (instead of sub-committees) and they will make funding recommendations to the new Ways and Means committee.