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Washington lawmakers start challenging session

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Associated Press
OLYMPIA -- Lawmakers have returned 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 began at noon Monday against a backdrop of a new coalition that is expected to seize power in the Senate early in the afternoon. Democrats have a small majority in the Senate, controlling 26 of 49 seats. But two Democrats, Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon, have announced they'll work with the chamber's 23 Republican in a new "majority coalition" caucus. That new caucus holds a 25-24 advantage.
This week, outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire is set to give her final speech on Tuesday, and Gov.-elect Jay Inslee will be sworn in on Wednesday before giving his inaugural speech.

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