By STEVE BROWN
OLYMPIA -- Despite the organizational upheaval in the Washington State Senate, its ag committee remains fairly stable.
On opening day Jan. 14, two Democrats joined the Senate's 23 Republicans to create a coalition intended to foster bipartisanship and equally shared leadership of Senate committees.
That didn't work out as planned. Coalition members will lead all but two committees, and one committee will have two co-chairs.
Sen. Brian Hatfield, the Raymond Democrat now in the minority, will continue as chairman of the Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development Committee.
In accepting the appointment, Hatfield said, "The vast majority of Washington state is made up of rural communities. In accepting the chairmanship of this committee, I feel that I am ensuring that the voice of rural Washington will be heard and the areas that matter most to its residents will receive their deserved consideration from the Senate."
With the new committee structure decided, he said, both sides will need to work together to find bipartisan solutions to create jobs, craft a new budget and respond to the Supreme Court's order to better fund Washington's K-12 education system.
The lone newcomer to the ag committee is Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way. She is a small business owner now in her fourth term in the Senate.
Other senators who will continue to serve on the ag committee:
* Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, ranking Republican.
* Jerome Delvin, R-Richland.
* Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens.
* Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, also Senate Republican leader.
* Paull Shin, D-Edmonds.