Billig replaces Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson of Maury Island in a year where Democrats have extended their control of the chamber after the November elections.
OLYMPIA — Washington Senate Democrats have chosen state Sen. Andy Billig as their new majority leader.
Billig, who represents Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District, replaces retiring Senate Majority Leader Sharon Nelson of Maury Island. Democratic senators selected him in a leadership race that took place Monday in Tukwila.
Nelson announced her retirement this spring, after leading Democrats through a busy legislative session, the first time in several years that Democrats held a majority in that chamber. Before that, Nelson served as minority leader.
First elected to the Senate in 2012 after a single term in the House, Billig has pushed for campaign-finance reform and last year was one of a small group of lawmakers who hashed out the court-ordered K-12 school-funding plan.
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“This caucus recognizes that bipartisanship and viewpoints from every corner of Washington are crucial in moving our state forward,” Billig said Monday in a statement. “We welcome new members whose energy and passion will help Senate Democrats continue to put people first and tackle the issues Washingtonians care about most — affordable health care, tax fairness, public education, mental health, public safety from gun violence, climate change, and more.”
Billig’s selection comes as Democrats picked up at least two Senate seats in the November election, bringing them to a 27-22 majority. Republican candidates in races for two other Senate seats held by the GOP currently have narrow leads over their Democratic counterparts.
In a statement, Nelson praised Billig, saying, “Andy has proven his commitment to progressive values through his work on education, campaign transparency and water quality.”
In the legislative session that starts in January, lawmakers are expected to work on improving Washington’s troubled mental-health system, consider more fixes to the K-12 school system and write a new two-year state operating budget.