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Angel's first Senate session had 'learning curve'
This is the first of a two-part series of an interview with Sen. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard), who just completed her first session in the state Senate representing the 26th Legislative District.
If you went to the state Senate in Olympia during the past session, you may have been shocked to find Republican Sen. Jan Angel seated with the Democrats.
Not because she changed parties, but because she is a part of the majority in the Senate. Because Republicans outnumber Democrats in the Senate, Angel and another Republican senator had to sit among their bi-partisan rivals.
Angel said she went to the Senate a couple of days before she was sworn in to see where she would be seated on the floor.
“They hadn’t figured out where they were going to put me,” said Angel, laughing, adding, “I am actually sitting on the Democrats’ side.
Angel said that she and fellow Republican Sen. Bruce Dammeirer are sitting with the minority because there was no room on the Republican side.
“At least they put me and Bruce next to each other,” she said.
Angel, a former District 26 state representative, said the Senate and House are different in many ways. In the House, representatives vote with machines, but the Senate is a roll call vote.
“Since my name starts with an ‘A’ I am the very first one to be called every time to vote,” she said. “I’ve had to take the responsibility to know how I am going to vote. I had to know what bill was up and how I was going to vote.”
She said even while senators are voting, they are still working off the floor.
“I had to get in a routine where after I voted, I’d work in the isle or go talk with constituents in the hallway,” said Angel. “I had to listen when calling for a vote, so I could go back in to hear what the next bill was.”
Angel said there are different rules when presenting bills, but there is a secretary of the Senate, who is available for questions on policies or procedures.
“In the House, you just stand up and address the speaker and bring forth your bill,” she said. “In the Senate, you have to go through the different readings. You have to learn the verbiage when presenting a bill.”
This year, the Senate held a 60-day session that began in January and adjourned on March 13. Angel said this was the first time, since being a state legislator, that she was part of the majority.
Angel said some was getting to know her new staff, along with committee placement.
“When I got there, they put me on three committees — transportation, health care and I was made deputy chair of trade and economic development, which I really love,” Angel said. “This is great for our district.”
She also was selected as a joint chair with Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) on the Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee.
Angel said everything is assigned in the Senate.
“You have assigned seating in the Caucus room,” Angel said. “When you are in the House, you just find a chair.”
Since the session ended, Angel remains busy with legislative briefings in the district until June 5.
Angel said when she returns to the Senate, there are several bills she wants to present again.
“It’s very difficult to get your bills through during a short session,” Angel said.
One bill Angel wants to present again deals with men who are paying child support for a child who is not biologically theirs.
“They have to pay child support no matter what and there is no recourse for them,” she said. “Men who have a new family or children of their own and are having to pay child support for someone who is not theirs, it’s affecting the children who are theirs.”
She would like to try to pass a bill for drug testing for entitlement for welfare programs.
She said the Senate’s top priority during the 60-day session was to get a supplemental budget and keep it in balance.
“The governor came out with a budget that would have put us millions of dollars out of budget,” said Angel. “We needed to stay balanced and there were some things we had to give up and some things [that] we added. That budget is still in balance.”
She added that the budget passed the Senate with just one opposing vote from a Seattle senator.
“It was amazing,” Angel said. “People worked together to come up with that wasn’t easy. We did it without adding any new taxes.”