Shea elected as House Republican assistant floor leader

CLE ELUM: The Washington House Republican Caucus today tapped Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, to serve as assistant floor leader for the 2011-12 legislative term. Shea was elected by his fellow House Republicans during the caucus’s reorganization meeting in Cle Elum.

“I am humbled and honored in being chosen by my colleagues to serve in a House Republican leadership role,” said Shea. “I will work hard to bring a strong conservative voice for those who are seeking changes in the direction of our state, as well as an edge on certain issues in which we significantly differ with our Democrat counterparts.”

As assistant floor leader, Shea will work with newly chosen Republican Floor Leader Rep. Charles Ross of Naches to manage legislation and debate on the floor of the House, and will represent Republicans in negotiations with the majority party floor leaders. He will also participate and provide input in House Republican leadership meetings, including legislative strategy and policy decisions.

Shea, a Spokane attorney, said he will draw upon his legal background and military experience as a Bosnia and Iraq war combat veteran.

“As an attorney, I’m accustomed to advocating for and against issues, and responding to arguments. I’ll be able to anticipate which arguments Democrats will make on the House floor and prepare our caucus with an appropriate and effective response,” added Shea. “I also bring a depth of disciplined leadership to the position, having led troops overseas as a commander. The organizational skills I’ve used as a military officer will help the caucus as we track, read and understand floor amendments that come up at the last minute. I’ve honed that experience both as an attorney and from my military leadership background, and I will bring those organizational and administrative skills to the table to support our Republican principles.”

The Legislature is scheduled to convene the 2011 session Monday, Jan. 10, but lawmakers could meet earlier if the governor calls a special session, as Republicans have suggested, to get an early start on dealing with a budget deficit now exceeding $5.7 billion. Shea and his House Republican colleagues are preparing for what some say may be one of the most difficult legislative sessions in recent history due to such a large deficit. However, within that challenge, Shea sees opportunity.

“Ultimately, it won’t be a Democrat or Republican solution that will get us through this crisis – it will be a Washington solution. Our small businesses can’t take any more regulations or tax increases. We need to have an adult conversation in the Legislature about the realities of what state government’s role should and shouldn’t be. We’re going to have to cut spending, target programs that are ineffective and unnecessary, consolidate agencies and programs, and eliminate excessive mid- and upper-level management so the state can more efficiently and effectively deliver essential services,” Shea added. “Finally, we need to work for policies that will help spur job creation in the private sector, because getting our economy turned around and controlling state spending will be the ultimate long-term solutions for our state budget problems.

“I think the voters were clear in this past election. They don’t want higher taxes and they’re fed up with being shut out of the process. They want majority Democrats to listen and be willing to work with us, and consider the solutions we bring to the table. I have the experience and the ability to articulate those solutions to our colleagues across the aisle in a way that will bring us together to reach agreement on many of the issues affecting Washington. I’m looking forward to my new responsibilities and helping to lead our state forward through this economic and budget crisis,” said Shea.

Also during the caucus meeting, Rep. Richard DeBolt, Chehalis, was re-elected leader of the state House Republicans, a position he has held since 2006. Others named to the Republican leadership team include: Rep. Joel Kretz, Wauconda, as deputy leader; Rep. Dan Kristiansen, Snohomish, as caucus chairman; Rep. Bill Hinkle, Cle Elum, as whip; and joining Shea in the other assistant floor leader position is Rep. Kevin Parker, Spokane.

Shea is serving his second term representing the 4th Legislative District in Eastern Washington.

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Washington State House Republican Communications