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February 12, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Conservative senators removing names from majority caucus website

OLYMPIA — A handful of conservative Republican state senators are removing their names from the website of the GOP-led Majority Coalition Caucus to protest recent decisions by its more moderate leaders.

Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry has already removed her name from the website’s roster page, while Sens. Pam Roach and Don Benton said they and another member plan to soon.

All reiterated they are still in the caucus but said they will not vote with it simply to preserve caucus unity.

“I will not participate in the Majority Coalition Caucus when they promote things that are in opposition to standard Republican ideas,” said Benton, of Vancouver.

The caucus, formed before last year’s legislative session, is made up of 24 Republicans and two Democrats — Rodney Tom of Medina and Tim Sheldon of Potlatch. It is partly led by moderates, including Tom as majority leader and Auburn Republican Joe Fain as floor leader.

Benton and the others are particularly upset that leaders agreed last month to a version of the state “Dream Act,” a Democrat-priority bill to allow financial aid for students who were illegally brought to the United States as children, without first holding a caucus vote on the proposal.

Holmquist Newbry, of Moses Lake, said it was a “major disappointment” that leaders brought the bill to the floor without a first holding a committee hearing. She said it was a “personal preference” for her name to appear only on the website of the Senate Republican Caucus, not the Majority Coalition Caucus.

Roach, of Auburn, said conservatives are concerned they are not being brought into caucus discussions.

She said they are planning to propose an amendment to caucus rules that would require that major bills get a person-by-person vote in caucus before being brought to the floor.

The group hopes to force a vote on the proposed rule change Wednesday afternoon, she said.

0 Comments | More in State Legislature | Topics: Don Benton, Janea Holmquist-Newbry, Joe Fain

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