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Inslee's seat to be filled; McKenna sides with GOP in budget talks

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Chris Gregoire is calling a special election to fill former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee's seat for just one month.

Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna is calling on lawmakers to pass several reform bills as part of their negotiated budget deal, and he strongly criticized House Speaker Frank Chopp, saying he is blocking a vote on those bills.

Gregoire calls special election

Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed said Monday that the state is required to hold a vote to fill a vacant seat. Inslee resigned from his seat last month to run for governor.

The November election will be particularly confusing to voters because Congress is also transitioning to its new district boundaries. The special election will be focused on the old 1st District boundaries that Inslee represented. Voters will also be deciding who will represent the new 1st District.

The person who is chosen to replace Inslee will serve just one month until the new person is seated in January. Reed's office says it will cost the state an extra $770,000 that will be sent to the counties.

McKenna calls for passage of reform bills

At a press conference in Olympia Monday, the attorney general said that Senate Republicans "haven't seen one inch of compromise from the speaker's office, in that he won't allow any vote on a reform bill."

Lawmakers are nearing the end of a 30-day special session to address the budget. They are trying to close a roughly half-billion dollar shortfall for the two-year budget cycle ending June 2013.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has said that if they aren't able to reach a general agreement by Tuesday, it will be difficult for lawmakers to get everything done by the April 10 end of the 30-day special session.

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