Senate majority seeks to have Jan Angel share authority on banking

Staff writerJanuary 21, 2014 

UPDATE 1/22: Senate leaders have postponed the committee shift, likely until next week. Parlette said their plans are unchanged but two senators were absent Wednesday, leaving the caucus one vote short of a majority.

Senate leaders hope to install new Port Orchard Republican Sen. Jan Angel on Wednesday as co-chairwoman of the Senate banking committee.

If the Senate votes as expected to go along with the plan, Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens would be bumped out of his position as sole chairman of the Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee, but Hobbs would still co-chair the panel with Angel.

It would be significant not just for anyone with an interest in banking regulations.

Republicans, when they took over the Senate last year along with two rogue Democrats, offered several committee chairmanships to Democrats who remained in the minority. Some declined, but Hobbs and Sen. Brian Hatfield of Raymond accepted. Sen. Tracey Eide of Des Moines accepted a co-chair position on the Transportation Committee.

A change Wednesday would leave Hatfield as the sole Democrat chairing a committee outright - Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development.

Republicans gained a seat with Angel's win in November, and majority caucus chairwoman Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee said there was some sentiment in the caucus for her to take over as sole chairwoman. Others felt obligated to Hobbs. "It seemed like the compromise was to have co-chairs on that committee," she said.

Angel has a background that dovetails with the committee's portfolio. She spent years as a banker -- working her way up from a bank's mail room -- then later sold real estate before representing Pierce and Kitsap counties in the House and then the Senate.

“We're just utilizing the talents of Sen. Angel and putting them where they can do some good," Parlette said.

Parlette acknowledged there was some "discussion" between Hobbs and Republicans about which committee would receive a particular measure -- likely a bill dealing with tenants' rights, which went to the Law and Justice Committee instead of Hobbs's panel.

But she said that didn't play into the decision, nor did anything else about Hobbs himself -- a moderate who has recently stood with fellow Democrats by sponsoring proposals to give educators a cost-of-living raise and requiring insurers to cover abortion.

"We just have a member with good talents that should be utilized," Parlette said.

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