Van De Wege gets Rules Committee seat

Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, added to his growing legislative clout last week when he was selected for the influential House Rules Committee.

The 25-person committee decides which of the hundreds of bills introduced each session will be debated on the floor of the state House of Representatives.

"I'm pretty excited about it. I'm honored that I was able to get it. This helps out the 24th District immensely. Only one other district has two members on the rules committee, the 28th in Pierce County," Van De Wege said.

Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, also serves on the House Rules Committee. She was re-elected as House majority leader - second only to the speaker of the House - a position she has held since 2003.

Van De Wege and Kessler, along with Sen. Jim Hargrove, D-Hoquiam, represent the 24th District which includes Clallam and Jefferson counties and one third of Grays Harbor County.

The 2009 Legislature's 105-day session is scheduled to begin Jan. 12 and adjourn on April 26.

In early December, Van De Wege was elected as one of two deputy whips within the Democratic caucus. In that position, Van De Wege will oversee the four assistant majority whips who are responsible for organizing, vote-counting and developing relationships between the caucus leadership and membership.

Van De Wege, who was first elected in November 2006, served as one of the assistant majority whips during the 2008 session. Once he was selected as a deputy whip, there was a good chance he would be selected for the rules committee as well.

"The rules committee assignment followed that somewhat. It's not a given but most of leadership is on the rules committee," Van De Wege said.

"The 24th District won't be overlooked when important decisions are being made. It's one of those things I'm most excited about," he said.

Van De Wege's other committees this session will be agriculture and natural resources; technology, energy and communications; and general government appropriations.

He had to give up his chairmanship of the Natural Resources Committee as well as his membership on the Joint Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs to serve on the Rules Committee.

"It was part of the trade-off for being selected to rules. But I'll be able to weigh in on veterans issues both on the rules committee and as deputy whip, and in some ways will have more influence that way," he said.

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