Gov. Chris Gregoire welcomed the Legislature back to work with a less than cheery outlook for the state, its economy and its citizens.
"It's an understatement to say this year will be incredibly challenging," she said in her opening remarks after greeting state officials and justices, and noting the presence of her husband, Mike and daughter Michelle.
She noted the loss of seven law enforcement officers and 13 military members from the state in 2009, calling it an "unspeakable tragedy." Later in the speech, she's expected to propose some changes to pension laws to allow the families of fallen law enforcement officers to qualify for pensions and free college tuition, regardless of the length of service.
"These Washingtonians gave their lives so we could have safer communities and a secure nation," she said. "For them and theri families, we have a duty this session to help build a better future."