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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

End In Sight For Washington Legislature, But Still Plenty Of Work To Do

Colin Fogarty
Northwest News Network files

Washington lawmakers are in the home stretch – or at least they hope they are. The current 60-day session is supposed to adjourn this coming Thursday.

But the House and Senate still have to agree on an update to the two-year budget. And that’s not the only major issue that remains unresolved.

If the Washington legislature is going to adjourn on time, lawmakers need to begin the final week of the session with a budget deal. That’s because it takes time to write, proofread, print and vote on a final budget bill.

Even more time is needed if budget writers want to give lobbyists and the public a day to digest what’s in the spending plan.

Bottom line: it’s crunch time.

Other major issues include what to do about Washington’s largely unregulated medical marijuana marketplace, and Governor Jay Inslee still wants a gas tax package.

The Democrat isn’t saying if he’s willing to call lawmakers back into a special session.

“I think the legislature can and should get its work done on time this year," he says. "Beyond that I’m not going to speculate.”

The wildcard in all this: it’s an election year. That could make lawmakers more willing to make a deal and leave the capitol in the rearview mirror. Or it could have the effect of people digging in on positions.

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."