Learn more about the legislative process and our state legislature. Check out the ways in which you can get involved during the 2023 legislative session below.
About Washington State Legislature
What is the Washington State Legislature?
The Washington State Legislature is made up of two chambers, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. The House of Representatives has 98 members, and the Senate has 49 members. These lawmakers pass new laws, change existing laws, and enact the Washington state budget. State lawmakers’ highest responsibilities are to listen to their constituents’ needs, identify solutions, and boldly enact them.
How are Washington state legislators elected?
Washington state has 49 legislative districts, each with an equal number of constituents. Each legislative district elects one Senator and two Representatives. Senators serve 4-year terms and Representatives serve 2-year terms. During even-numbered years, every State Representative and half of the State Senators are up for election.
When is the Washington state legislative session?
Each year, Washington state’s legislative session begins on the second Monday in January. The Washington state legislature operates on a biennium; each legislative session lasts two years and bills that are not passed in the first year are automatically carried over to the next year. Each legislative session begins in an odd-numbered year, during which legislators meet for 105 days to evaluate and pass legislation and the biannual state budget. In even-numbered years, the legislature meets for 60 days and considers a supplemental budget.
What’s happening at the 2023 legislative session?
The 2023 legislative session began on January 10 and will last for 105 days. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature will hold a hybrid remote/in-person session. Legislators will participate in floor action in-person and committee days remotely. While lawmakers will be in-person for some activities, all Washington state constituents will participate virtually.
For important dates, check out the Washington Legislature Cut Off Calendar.
One way to ensure every person in Washington state has equitable access to reproductive healthcare is by passing legislation that advances abortion and reproductive equity across the state.
Every legislative session, Pro-Choice Washington offers several opportunities for you to connect with your lawmakers to express the importance of abortion and reproductive freedom and push them to ensure that everyone has access to the healthcare they need regardless of their medical need, identity, or zip code.
Opportunities to contact your lawmakers on reproductive freedom include emails, phone calls, “in-person” virtual meetings, and attendance at committee hearings and town halls.
These are a few of the ways in which you can get involved in the 2023 Legislative Session.
- Participate in our Annual Advocacy Week
Every year in January, Pro-Choice Washington holds an Advocacy Week which serves as an opportunity for constituents to meet with and lobby their lawmakers on Pro-Choice Washington’s priority bills. If you would like to get updates about and get involved in our 2023 Advocacy Week, fill out the form here.
Legislative Session Resources
Below is a list of resources to help guide you to understand the legislative process and how to contact your lawmakers.
- Overview of the Washington State legislative process (Video)
- Find out who your legislators are with the District Finder
- Contact your Legislators:
- Email your Legislators: Legislator emails are on the Member Email-List Page List
- Call your Legislators: Legislator phone numbers are on the Member Roster List
- Toll-Free Hotline: Call the Washington State hotline to leave a brief message for your district legislators and ask them to vote “Yes” on a bill. When leaving a message with the hotline, please be prepared to give your name and street address.
- Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000. During legislative session, the Hotline is open Monday-Friday, 8am to 7pm. TTY for Hearing Impaired: 800.833.6388
- Track our priority bills by typing in the bill number at the Washington State Bill Tracker
- Sign in to note your position for the legislative record: https://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Testify.aspx
- Write virtual testimony for bill hearings: https://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/Testify.aspx
How a bill becomes Law
- A bill is introduced by a member of the legislature. The legislator introducing the bill is known as the “Prime Sponsor.” Fellow legislators have a limited window during which they can sign on in support of the new bill, officially becoming a “co-sponsor” the legislation
- Once the bill is introduced, it is referred to a committee for a hearing. The committee the bill is referred to is determined by the subject /focus of the bill. The committee studies the bill and may hold public hearings on it. It then can pass, reject, or take no action on the bill
- If the bill passes out of its original policy committee and it has a “fiscal note” (financial impact on the budget) — the bill will then be reported to a fiscal committee. The committee studies the bill and may hold public hearings on it. It can then pass, reject, or take no action on the bill
- If the bill passes out of fiscal committee, the committee report on the passed version of the bill is read in open session of the House or Senate, and the bill is then referred to the Rules Committee
- The Rules Committee can either place the bill on the second reading calendar for debate before the entire body or take no action.
- At the second reading, a bill is subject to debate and amendment before being placed on the third reading calendar for final passage
- After passing one chamber, the bill goes through the same procedure in the other chamber
- If amendments are made in the other chamber, the first chamber must approve the changes
- When both the House and the Senate accept the bill, it is signed by the respective leaders and sent to the governor
- The governor chooses to sign the bill into law or may veto all or part of the legislation. If the governor fails to act on the bill, it may become law without a signature