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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."

Washington State Legislature Convenes for Opening Day, Starting 2017 Budget Session

Jeanie Lindsay
Northwest News Network
New and returning lawmakers take the oath of office on day one of Washington state's 2017 legislative session.

Washington state’s 65th Legislature is in session. Both the House and Senate convened at noon Monday, marking the start of a 105-day budget writing session.

While education funding is a top priority, in an opening day speech, Speaker of the House Frank Chopp expressed his concerns that Washington residents will lose their health care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

“Whatever happens in Washington D.C., in this Washington, we must not let our neighbors in rural and urban areas be without basic health,” Chopp said.

Chopp’s remarks were swiftly followed by a call for unity from Republican House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen.

“We are gonna be faced with some challenges this year,” he said. “But like those that have gone before us, they have come up with a way to get the job done.”

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee will give his second inaugural address to the legislature.