The Olympic Peninsula will be well-represented on House committees in the coming year, with state Reps. Kevin Van De Wege and Steve Tharinger appointed to committees tackling legislation on natural resources, health care reform implementation and even the state’s tax structure.
Tharinger (D-Dungeness) will continue to serve on the Environment committee and this year also will be on the Health Care and Wellness committee, which is taking up implementation of health care reform in the state. Additionally, Tharinger has been named vice chair of the Finance committee, which considers issues relating to state and local revenues, tax exemptions and changes in the administration of taxes.
“During my first term, I pushed to end outdated tax exemptions that don’t benefit our citizens but deprive the state of revenue necessary to fund things like rural hospitals and strong schools,” Tharinger said.
“We were able to pass bipartisan legislation closing a tax loophole for large, out-of-state banks, saving the state millions of dollars. That’s the kind of reform we’re going to be closely examining as we consider how to meet our constitutional obligation to fund education without completely shredding the safety net that protects our most vulnerable citizens.”
Van De Wege (D-Sequim), has been reappointed to the Agriculture and Natural Resources, Health Care and Wellness, and Rules committees. He also will be serving on the Government Operations and Elections committee.
This is the first year that Van De Wege and Tharinger will both serve on the Health Care and Wellness committee.
“I think it’s good for rural districts like ours to have a strong presence on the committee taking up issues like access to health care,” Van De Wege said.
“Clallam and Jefferson counties have a higher percentage of elderly and aging residents than other areas of the state. We have to ensure we can provide access to affordable, quality care that meets the needs of this population.”
Van De Wege’s membership on the Rules committee is important because it is the committee that decides which legislation — and in what order — will be considered on the House floor. Only bills voted on by the full House have a chance of making it all the way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.