OLYMPIA, Wash. -- After 105 days, the legislative session wrapped up in Olympia on Sunday. Gov. Jay Inslee then announced that a special session will convene on May 13 at 9 a.m.
Inslee said the central focus will be on the budget. The Senate, which is controlled by a coalition of Republicans and two Democrats, passed a budget with no tax increases. The governor and Democratic-controlled House favor plans that eliminate some tax breaks.
"The parties are not miles apart at the moment, they are light years apart," Inslee said at a news conference Sunday night.
During the special session, Inslee also hopes to address transportation funding, education policy, gun control, abortion insurance and more.
Inslee also said a new DUI package is nearly complete.
"I've long believed that we should have a much stronger approach... this is not a property crime, this is not a traffic offense, it is a fatality waiting to happen," he said.
Many Republicans feel the governor is asking for too much in the special session.
"It's just like we're called into a brand new full session," said Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn.
Some lawmakers also criticized the governor for waiting two weeks before starting the session, instead of starting it immediately. But the governor said he wants to negotiate with legislative leaders over the next two weeks, hoping lawmakers will have something to vote on early in the special session, which can last up to 30 days.
Leaders in both the House and Senate had resigned themselves to the prospect of an overtime session.
"Not a lot has been accomplished in this regular session,” said Sen. Jeannine Darneille, D-Tacoma, who agreed that it is frustrating.
No matter the branch, no matter the party, few seemed pleased with their work.
"As a constituent myself, I'm not happy. As a legislator, I'm very frustrated. We should've got the job done," said Rep. Dan Kristiansen, R-Snohomish.
While several policy issues were passed and a baseline budget was approved, the bulk of the hard cuts and spending will have to wait for a special session. Simply put, there's too big a gulf between what the bi-partisan Senate and Democratic House want to pass.
This will be the sixth special session in three years for Washington lawmakers.