State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, has been tapped to serve in a leadership position on two committees in the upcoming legislative session.
Benton was appointed by the Republican-controlled Majority Coalition Caucus to serve as chair of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee and one of two vice-chairs of the Transportation Committee.
Benton was a vocal opponent of the Columbia River Crossing and noted in a press release he led “the effort to defeat the flawed and costly” project.
“I’m honored to be selected for such important leadership roles,” Benton said in a statement. “I’ve worked hard on behalf of the people of the 17th Legislative District for 20 years now, and have spent many of those years working on issues related to transportation, banking and insurance matters. I look forward to putting that experience to good use in these key leadership roles.”
Earlier this month, Benton was not re-elected as majority deputy leader by his fellow Republicans. He told The Columbian it was in part because he made it clear he preferred to chair a committee.
Republicans gained control of the state Senate in the November election. In the previous legislative session, two Democrats switched sides to caucus with Republicans and form the Majority Coalition Caucus.
Benton was replaced by Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, as majority deputy leader. Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville was elected as the Senate majority leader for a two-year term. Schoesler replaces Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom of Medina, who retired.
Benton was appointed as the director of Clark County’s environmental services department in 2013, a position he currently holds.
Benton will also serve as a member of the Senate Governmental Operations and Rules committees.
Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, who was selected to serve as whip, will also serve on the Early Learning and K-12 Education, Rules, Health Care and Transportation committees.
In the House, another Clark County delegate was appointed to vice-chair of a committee; Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, will be vice-chair of the Commerce and Gaming committee.
The 2015 legislative session starts Jan. 12.