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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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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.

Short takes and breaking news from the Washington Legislature and the state capital.