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Gridlock Or Compromise? Divided Washington Legislature Set To Convene

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School funding, a roads-and-transit package and medical marijuana are among the hot topics as the Washington legislature convenes Monday. Lawmakers plan to meet for 105 days.

Republicans control the Washington Senate while Democrats have the majority in the state House. But House minority leader Dan Kristiansen noted that no one party has a comfortable majority.

“The voters have spoken and the numbers in the legislature are virtually a dead heat,” he said. “So there’s going to be forced dialogue, there’s going to be forced comprise from folks if we’re going to get out of here in that 105-days.”

Of course, the opposite could happen — gridlock. Already partisan differences are flaring over Governor Jay Inslee’s proposed tax package.

Washington lawmakers return to the Capitol in contempt of the Supreme Court over school funding and facing the threat of sanctions.

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.