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Eye On Olympia

TNT: House appropriations tussle might mean Spokane’s Ormsby doesn’t get Capital chair…

(That’s TNT as in the Tacoma News-Tribune, by the way.)

This post is solely for the hardcore legislative junkies that comprise a slice of this blog’s readership. You know who you are.

On the TNT’s excellent Political Buzz blog, writer Joe Turner speculates that a reported tussle to chair the main House budget-writing committee could end up meaning that local Rep. Timm Ormsby doesn’t move up to chair the House construction-budget committee.

Here’s why: two key committee chairs are leaving: longtime Appropriations chair Helen Sommers and capital budget chair Bill Fromhold. Appropriations writes the main, big state budget; Capital focuses instead on things like buying land, building buildings and doing maintenance on state facilities/colleges/etc.

Reps. Hans Dunshee and Kelli Linville both want the appropriations post, according to Turner. Only one can get the job, obviously. So there’s apparently some speculation that one — Turner says Linville — would be awarded the capital budget top job as a consolation prize.

That would mean that Ormsby — who as capital budget vice chair is nicely positioned to move up to the top job there — wouldn’t.

That would be a blow to Spokane’s clout — lots of lawmakers want the construction projects that Capital Budget doles out, making it a powerful position.

And since most Spokane-area lawmakers are Republicans and Republicans are very much the minority in Olympia, it’s damned unusual for anyone from Spokane to chair anything these days. (Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, being the obvious exception.)

I’ve got a message in to Ormsby, asking about all this. Will update when I hear back from him.

UPDATE: Says Ormsby: It’s too early to say. He says he hasn’t been privvy to those discussions, but says he’s confident that, if re-elected, he’ll get committee assignments that are fair. (Ormsby wouldn’t go this far, but he’s a pretty safe bet for re-election, seeing as how he outpolled challenger Michael Novak more than two to one in the August primary.)
Committee chairman or not, though, Ormsby says he’s less worried about a title than about being a strong and effective advocate for the central-Spokane district and region. And he says he can represent the district’s interests well whether he’s chair or not.
“Leverage comes in all forms and sizes,” he said.


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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