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Special legislative session will have political implications

Austin Jenkins

An expected special session of the Washington state Legislature would mean another freeze on political fundraising.

State law prohibits lawmakers from soliciting contributions while they are in session. For most members, that’s probably not a huge concern since this is an off-election year. But a few legislators will be on this year’s ballot.

The so-called session freeze on fundraising lifts at 12:01 a.m. on the day after adjournment. It goes back into effect at 12:01am on the first day of a special session. You can bet candidates will make the most of whatever window they get.

State Sen. Tim Sheldon, one of two Democrats who joined with Republicans this year to create a majority coalition, says if Gov. Jay Inslee doesn’t immediately call lawmakers back into session, it will be for political reasons.

“Really, I’ve got to say, frankly, I smell a rat,” Sheldon said.

Sheldon notes that Senate Democratic leader Ed Murray is running for Seattle mayor. There is also a hot race to fill a vacant state Senate seat on the Kitsap Peninsula.

“And I think it’s politics that now gets involved,” said Sheldon.

A spokesman for the governor says it demeans the Senate majority to suggest the Democrat would schedule a special session based on fundraising considerations.

When Sheldon made his charge, he was flanked by several Republican members of the majority coalition. Turns out Senate Republicans have a campaign fundraiser scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.