Gov. Chris Gregoire orders Legislature into an all-nighter.
OLYMPIA — The Legislature ended one special session at midnight and began a new one as Wednesday began, working to finish work on a deal over budgets and reforms to state government.
Gov. Chris Gregoire said she was keeping legislators in the Capitol until they finished their work, not allowing them to go home for a few hours sleep and return to work in the morning.
“If I let them go home, the air will go out of the ballon again,” Gregoire told reporters at a news conference to announce the new, one-day special session. “There's only a few hours to get it done.. . No napping.”
Technically, the governor can't call a special session for less than 30 days. But Gregoire said she had an agreement with legislative leaders that the special session would only extend long enough to finish work on bills in an agreement that was reached Tuesday afternoon.
That agreement — which involves the out-of-balance operating budget, the capital construction budget and reforms to pensions, public school employee health insurance and four-year balanced budgets — showed signs of fraying throughout the night. The 282-page operating budget, which is a spending plan for many state programs through June 30, 2013, didn't even arrive on legislator's desks until after midnight.
Asked about the public's reaction to a budget and other legislation that is passed late at night, Gregoire insisted that there were no surprises in any of the bills.
“It isn't as if these issues haven't been vetted,” she said.