Senate majority selects Brown to chair economic-development committee

8th District lawmaker also tapped for three key committees, including budget-writing Ways & Means

Members of the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus have selected Sen. Sharon Brown to chair the Senate Trade and Economic Development Committee.

“I am very honored to have been chosen by my colleagues to take on this important leadership role,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “One of the key goals of our Senate coalition is to help the private sector create and maintain jobs and to get the people of Washington back to work.

“Looking for creative ways to make Washington more attractive to employers and reviving our manufacturing base have not only been priorities for me since joining the Senate; they are some of my passions.

“We must work together – in a bipartisan manner – to create an environment that encourages job and economic growth, allows new and small businesses to thrive, and sends a signal to the rest of the world that Washington is open for business. As chair of the Trade and Economic Development committee that is exactly what I plan to do.”

Brown has not only talked the talk, but walked the walk when it comes to building bipartisan support for innovative new approaches to economic development. Calling it one of the most ingenious ways ever to promote economic development, members of the Senate passed Brown’s “Reinvest in Washington Jobs Act” during the 2014 session by a vote of 45-2, with Democratic senators praising the idea during the floor debate.

“The way this bill is crafted is quite ingenious,” said Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, prior to the March 4 vote on Brown’s bill. “The business has to reinvest the tax preference in the business and create training programs and well-trained jobs for the business.

“[Senator Brown] was able, quite frankly, to accomplish something that I was unable to do – in having accountability built into our tax expenditures.”

Organized labor also praised Brown’s bill, saying it would lead to better-trained workers and more opportunities for manufacturing jobs.

The measure stalled in the House of Representatives, but Brown plans to reintroduce it in January when the Legislature convenes for its 2015 session.

“I’ve been working for more than a year now with mayors and economic-development professionals on this new approach, which improves on the traditional business-and-occupation tax-relief model,” said Brown. “This exciting new economic-development plan was developed in collaboration with Kennewick Mayor Steve Young. For the first time, the state would be doing economic development in a way that gives employers ‘skin in the game’ so that they are reinvesting in Washington – in their business infrastructure and employees – and tightening their bond with the communities where they are located. And through that reinvestment, they will give the state a measurable way of helping them create jobs – which, of course, is what we really want.”

Brown said as chair she plans to get Washington out of the business of picking winners and losers and focus economic development on expanding opportunity for all.

“There is a great deal of entrepreneurial talent across the board in our state,” said Brown. “Government can’t always identify the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but we can and should foster the type of pro-growth climate that will create opportunities for these talented individuals to flourish and be successful.”

Members of the Majority Coalition Caucus also selected Brown to serve on the Senate’s budget committee – known as Ways and Means – and the Senate Health Care Committee. Brown will also continue her strong leadership on the Senate Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee.

“A lot of the issues we deal with on the EET committee have an economic-development component,” Brown pointed out. “The promotion of hydropower and nuclear power is not only vital to reaching our goal of cleaner energy, but new technology and innovation – such as small modular reactors – also have the potential to create thousands of high-paying construction, tech and manufacturing jobs for Washingtonians now, and for a generation to come.”