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Originally published Friday, April 6, 2012 at 5:53 PM

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Lawmakers continue to work toward budget deal

Lawmakers may be moving closer to agreement on the supplemental budget, and they could move a budget bill out of a key Senate committee as early as Friday night.

Associated Press

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OLYMPIA, Wash. —

Lawmakers may be moving closer to agreement on the supplemental budget, and they could move a budget bill out of a key Senate committee as early as Friday night.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee held a public hearing on the budget moved out by the full House on Thursday, and also heard several bills tied to the budget.

Earlier in the day, tempers flared briefly after one Senate Republican moved to adjourn until Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, was visibly angry as she said "there is no reason to go home right now" with numerous bills that still need to be passed, including ones that Republicans want.

"The clock is ticking and it's time to get this done," Brown said.

The 30-day special legislative session ends Tuesday.

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, who had initially called to adjourn, had expressed concern about rumors for a "call of the Senate" that would keep lawmakers in Olympia through the Easter weekend. The call is a motion that compels members to be present for a particular period of time, with no one allowed to leave until the motion is lifted.

He ultimately agreed not to adjourn, expressing hope that the bills discussed at the Ways and Means committee ensure lawmakers implement "what's hopefully a bipartisan budget."

Lawmakers are trying to close a roughly half-billion dollar shortfall for the two-year budget cycle ending June 2013.

Democrats hold majorities in both the House and the Senate, but last month, Republicans established a philosophical majority in the Senate after three conservative Democrats stood with them on a GOP-crafted budget plan that then passed the Senate but stalled in the House. That chamber passed an alternate plan agreed to by majority Democrats in the House and Senate.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has been negotiating with all parties on a regular basis since special session started March 12. Republicans have been insisting on several bills, including measures to reform the state pension system and a four-year balanced budget measure. Some of those bills were heard in the Ways and Means Committee on Friday.

Earlier Friday, the Senate chamber passed a measure to overhaul community custody in Washington state.

The measure, which passed on a 43-2 vote, would put in place what backers call "swift and certain" sanctions for offenders under Department of Corrections supervision. The measure passed the Senate in February during the regular session but died in the House.

Under the bill, minor offenses would lead to up to three days in jail. More serious offenses would result in up to 30 days in jail. Outright criminal activity would be dealt with by the courts.

Currently, offenders receive anything from no punishment to 60 days behind bars for violating the terms of their community custody.

Some House Republicans oppose the bill because ex-convicts would face reduced penalties.

Also Friday:

- On a 68-26 vote, the House passed a measure to repeal a voter-approved initiative requiring the state to use surplus funds on improving K-12 student learning. In its place, the bill would create a task force on education funding to recommend how to pay for basic education programs.

Initiative 728 was passed by Washington voters in 2000. In recent years lawmakers have suspended its requirements, citing budget shortfalls.

-The House, on a 60-34 vote, passed a measure to ban a potentially carcinogenic flame retardant widely used in children's products. It would ban a pair of what are known as Tris chemicals: chlorinated Tris and TCEP.

The former is a flame retardant that was used in children's pajamas in the 1970s but was voluntarily taken off the market by manufacturers over health concerns. It has since returned to use, primarily as a fire retardant in polyurethane foam, a highly flammable but cost-effective component of many children's products. The measure now goes to the Senate.


AP writer Jonathan Kaminsky contributed to this report.


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