Special sessions not so ‘special’

Washington lawmakers are preparing for a special session after failing to finish their work in the allotted 105 days of the regular session. Going into overtime is becoming a habit for the Legislature. Only 10 times since 1980 have lawmakers managed to get done on time. Some years, they’ve needed multiple extra periods.

The Legislature meets for 105 days in odd years, when biennial budgets are written, and for 60 days in even years. State law provides for special sessions of up to 30 days to be called by the governor or by lawmakers themselves.

Extra sessions aren’t cheap, costing almost $240,000 for a pair in 2010. A big part of the expense is a $90-a-day per diem each lawmaker can claim. It’s intended to defray the cost of meals and lodging.


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