Washington's 12th legislative district has an especially strong presence in Olympia with the elevation of Representative Mike Steele into a top leadership role. 

Steele is now the second highest ranking Republican in the House as the Deputy Minority Leader. 

He says his main function is to help party policies move forward. 

"My responsibilities really include helping other members of the caucus be successful in passing legislation and working with the speaker of the House to try and negotiate public policy in terms of getting bills to the floor from our members and trying to figure out how we handle policy priorities for the whole of the state." 

He was elevated to Deputy Minority Leader following last year's legislative session after being elected last April in a reorganizational meeting. Steele succeeded Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, a long-time member of the caucus leadership team. 

Steele says the power of Republicans in the House (as well as the Senate) is limited because Democrats control the majority. 

"The majority still has the majority, and so we are still subject to their whims," Steele said. "So, we do as much as we can to negotiate good policy and negotiate opportunities for our members of the minority to have a say in crafting public policy for Washington state." 

Steele is also a member of the pivotal Rules Committee, which decides which bills get sent to the House floor for consideration and in what order. 

In addition, he’s Assistant Ranking Minority Member on the Capital Budget Committee and is a member of the Education Committee.  

Steele says caucus leadership members don't normally sponsor legislation, focusing instead on moving bills from other party members forward. 

He said he does have some policy interests just the same, including consideration of the Main Street Tax Credit, which is utilized heavily in the 12th District.  

Steele also said he'll be working with fellow 12th District Republican House member Keith Goehner on some public safety issues and will continue to be one of the chief budget negotiators as a member of Capital Budget Committee. 

He said it is unusual for leadership members to maintain committee assignments, but thought it was important to keep his intact in the current session. 

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Gallery Credit: Reesha Cosby

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