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Eye On Olympia

GOP: The view from (mostly) the sidelines…

Republicans, outnumbered nearly two to one in both the House and Senate, are trying to pick their battles this year. High on the list: a package of flood-relief bills including a property tax break and tax relief for farms.

"It's going to take them a couple years to get the fields back," said House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis.

Also on the list: state money to set up an automated early-warning system to call residents and warn them of rising water. (Some residents, DeBolt said, woke to find their homes in waist-deep water.)

Republicans are clearly frustrated by their lack of clout these days. Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla, said there's been no movement on Republican-backed proposals for property tax relief. One victory they're claiming: an advancing bill to help communities combat gang crime.

They joked about their thin ranks. When a reporter asked what it was like to see more empty chairs in GOP legislative meetings, Hewitt joked that they've just pushed the chairs farther apart.

"It's like you're flying business-class now," added DeBolt.

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