Gov. Gregoire wants special legislative session, with limits
Gov. Chris Gregoire says she expects to call a special legislative session soon — but only if lawmakers agree to limit the agenda.
Seattle Times staff reporter
OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire says she expects to call a special legislative session soon — but only if lawmakers agree to limit the agenda.
"If we can get the job done by coming back for another day, let's do it," she said at a news conference Monday, the day after lawmakers adjourned without completing work on a handful of bills still pending.
Gregoire said she'll likely talk to legislative leaders today about the possibility of a special session.
"I want an agreement ... on what bills will be discussed and how much time," Gregoire said. "This is not an opportunity to spend 30 days and begin another legislative session. This is a time to finish the job. It should be done quickly."
Lawmakers had passed the state budget and other major bills before running out of time at midnight Sunday.
Special sessions are called for 30 days, and any bills that failed during the regular session can be brought back for another try. Gregoire said she doesn't have the authority to change those rules, but lawmakers can agree to restrict the session's scope and duration.
"It's my job to ... negotiate with them what are the subjects and how long are we going to be here and then I take them at their word," Gregoire said.
A special session would cost the state about $20,000 a day, the Office of Financial Management said.
Gregoire said she was only interested in bringing back bills necessary to complete the state budget.
The governor's budget office identified three bills that fit that criteria: Senate Bill 6160 (allowing judges greater discretion in sentencing), Senate Bill 6183 (allowing early deportation of illegal- immigrant offenders) and House Bill 1776 (concerning school levies).
Of the three, the school-levy bill has the biggest budget impact. It contains a provision that changes state law to allow a $60 million cut in levy-equalization funding, according to the governor's office.
Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt, of Walla Walla, blasted Democrats for contemplating a special session.
"Democrats had 105 days to finish their business. They wasted time, then tried to jam everything through in the final two days and failed," Hewitt said in a statement.
"While the governor said she would be calling legislators back only to wrap a few 'last-minute details,' there is no guarantee that we'll stick to a certain list of bills once we return," he said.
In response, House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said Hewitt "likes to complain."
"He's wrong," Chopp said. "We effectively got the job done on time. We passed the three major budgets on time and passed an enormous amount of other legislation that will be of great benefit to the people of the state of Washington."
Andrew Garber: 360-236-8268 or email@example.com
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