SALEM — The evenly divided Oregon House has finalized its committee assignments, and Republicans from Eastern Oregon are sharing the helm of several panels.

Republicans gained six seats in the last election, splitting the House 30-30 with Democrats, a first for the chamber. In 2003, the two parties had an even split in the Senate. 

Last week, representatives approved rules for co-governance, giving each committee and subcommittee co-chairs and co-vice chairs, one from each party. 

House co-Speakers Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg) and Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) announced the committee assignments for the 2011 legislative session in a news release. The news release said co-chairs will work together to develop committee work plans and must agree on committee agendas. 

Committee meetings will begin when the regular session convenes on Feb. 1.

Among the assignments for Eastern Oregon representatives:

• Rep. John Huffman, the The Dalles Republican in District 59, is on the House Education Committee and the Veterans Affairs Committee. Huffman co-chairs, with Rep. Mary Nolan (D-Portland), the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety.

• Rep. Cliff Bentz, an Ontario Republican in District 60, is co-chair of the Transportation and Economic Development Committee, sharing the top job with Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton). Bentz also is on the Revenue Committee, the Energy, Environment and Water Committee, and the Joint Committee on Tax Credits.

• Reps. Bob Jenson (R-Pendleton) and Brian Clem (D-Salem) co-chair the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and Jenson will team up with Rep. Jean Cowan (D-Newport) to head the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Natural Resources. 

• Reps. Greg Smith (R-Heppner) and Terry Beyer (D-Springfield) co-chair the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Transportation and Economic Development. Smith also will serve as a member of the powerful Joint Committee on Ways and Means, which sets the state’s budget.

In the state Senate, Democrats have a narrow 16-14 majority. 

Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) continues as Senate minority leader. He also is vice-chair of the Senate Rules Committee.

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