Democrats take control of WA/OR Legislatures - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather

Democrats take control of WA/OR Legislatures

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OLYMPIA, Wash. - Lawmakers are returning to the Capitol for a new legislative session, and in addition to working with a new governor, they face a roughly $1 billion budget shortfall for the upcoming two-year budget, not counting money they will need to spend to improve funding for education.

The 105-day legislative session begins at noon Monday against a backdrop of a new coalition that is expected to seize power in the Senate right away.  Democrats have a small majority in the Senate, controlling 26 of 49 seats. 

This week, outgoing Governor Chris Gregoire is set to give her final speech on Tuesday, and Governor-elect Jay Inslee will be sworn in on Wednesday before giving his inaugural speech.

For Oregon, 30 senators and 60 representatives will take the oath of office on Monday, and Governor John Kitzhaber is scheduled to deliver his annual "state of the state" address to a joint session of the House and Senate.

 Lawmakers will adopt rules and elect leaders but won't formally begin the legislative session until February 4th.

Democrats now have a solid 34-26 majority in the House after two years tied with Republicans. Rep. Tina Kotek of Portland was elected speaker.