OLYMPIA - As Washington State House Republicans announced committee assignments for the coming 2013 legislative session, it's apparent that the Yakima region will continue to be well-served in the state House.
Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, will continue his work on critical agricultural and water-related issues by serving as the ranking Republican on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Chandler, an orchardist who was first elected to the state House in 1999, said he will continue to ensure agriculture remains viable and prioritized in the state's economy.
"Over the past few years we've seen some good legislation passed into law that will help farmers, orchardists and ranchers," said Chandler. "We have also seen some proposals that could be very harmful on producers and growers in our state.
"Agriculture continues to lead our state out of this recession, and we have to recognize its importance by treating one of the largest employers in our state fairly," he added.
Chandler will also serve on the House Business and Financial Services Committee.
Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, will continue to put his experience and knowledge of local government issues to good use as the ranking Republican on the House Local Government Committee and as a member of the House Government Operations and Elections Committee.
Taylor served seven years as the Kittitas County planning director and is a former director of the Kittitas County Community Development Services Department.
"For the average citizen out there, the more localized the government, the more impact it will have on their lives," said Taylor.
"The interactions between governments - state, local, federal, tribal - and the policies they implement have a huge impact on folks across the state. I've always been one that wants to remove the layers of bureaucracy and get to the crux of the issue as quickly and efficiently as possible and I'm looking forward to continuing that work in the upcoming session," he added.
Both Taylor and Chandler will also serve on the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee. Chandler will serve as assistant ranking Republican, and said he expects the budget to once again be the key issue for the 2013 session.
"Even though state revenues continue to increase, we're still going into the next two-year budget cycle with about a $900 million shortfall," said Chandler. "State government continues to grow faster than the incomes of the taxpayers who pay for it. I'd like to see this trend end.
"We need to help get Washington working. When our people are working, we'll have more than enough revenues for state services without having to raise taxes and fees," he said.
Taylor said the recent state Supreme Court decision on education funding will also contribute heavily to the next state budget.
"We know that educating our students is the state's paramount duty - we've known it for a long time - yet we continue to treat education allocations the same as every other state expenditure," said Taylor. "This has to change. There has to be a reprioritizing of what the state pays for. If education is our number one priority - and it is - then let's pay for it first and then fund the rest of state government with what's left over."
The 2013 session starts Jan. 14 and is scheduled to last 105 days.