OLYMPIA -- Senate Minority Leader Mike Hewitt will undergo surgery Monday to remove a tumor from his thymus.
Senate Republicans announced this afternoon that Hewitt will have surgery in Seattle for the recently discovered tumor. With the Legislature still struggling to solve a problem with the state's operating budget, Sen. Mark Schoesler of Ritzville will fill in for Hewitt in leadership discussions and Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield will continue as the chief negotiator on the budget.
"Although I will be recovering, if I need to be at the Capitol for a critical vote, I will be there," Hewitt, of Walla Walla, said in a prepared statement announcing the surgery.
Earlier today, Gov. Chris Gregoire said she hoped legislative leaders could reach an agreement on a budget package by Tuesday, so the technical aspects of it could be ironed out, the bill language drafted and votes could be completed before next Friday. That's Good Friday and the beginning of Passover.
The special session of the Legislature can't go past Tuesday, April 10.