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​WASHINGTON STATE LEGISLATURE

​​The Washington State Legislature is a bicameral body with 49 members in the Senate and 98 members in the House of Representatives. Each district is served by one Senator and two House members.

The citizen Legislature meets annually on the second Monday in January in the ornate Capitol building in Olympia. In odd-numbered years -- the budget year -- the Legislature meets for 105 days, and in even-numbered years for 60 days. If necessary, the Governor can call legislators in for a special session for a 30-day period. Legislators can call themselves into special session with a two-thirds vote of the two bodies.​

Members of the Senate are elected to four-year terms, and House members are elected to two-year terms.
​​FINDING BILL INFORMATION ONLINE
Every bill has a "Bill Summary" page with the following sections:

  • ​Bill History​ - chronological actions, times of hearings, and any voting action.
  • ​Available Documents
                1. Bill Documents - Links to both original and amendments from House and/or Senate floor.
                2. Bill Digest - Brief summary of bill.
                3. Bill Reports - Links to both bill analysis and quick way to understand bill.
  • ​Fiscal Note​ - Fiscal impact of bill.
  • ​Amendments ​- Amendments from committees.
  • ​Available Videos​ - Archived video becomes available approximately two hours after the close of the hearing or floor session.
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​HOW TO READ A BILL
When reading a bill, look for the following three characteristics:

  1. ​New Sections - Usually at the beginning of a paragraph and identified by the words "NEW SECTION."  This denotes new sections to law.
  2. ​Amendments ​- Words removed denoted by a ​" ​strike out​" and replaced with added words ​" underlined​." Words not crossed out nor underlined are either already passed law or original text of proposed law.
  3. ​Repeals​- Paragraph and sections that are ​" ​strike out​" are being removed.
Sample Bill
Code Reviser Office
​HOW A BILL BECOMES LAW
  1. A bill may be introduced in either the Senate or House of Representatives by a member.
  2. It is referred to a committee for a hearing. The committee studies the bill and may hold public hearings on it. It can then pass, reject, or take no action on the bill.
  3. The committee report on the passed bill is read in open session of the House or Senate, and the bill is then referred to the Rules Committee.
  4. The Rules Committee can either place the bill on the second reading calendar for debate before the entire body, or take no action.
  5. At the second reading, a bill is subject to debate and amendment before being placed on the third reading calendar for final passage.
  6. After passing one house, the bill goes through the same procedure in the other house.
  7. If amendments are made in the other house, the first house must approve the changes.
  8. When the bill is accepted in both houses, it is signed by the respective leaders and sent to the governor.
  9. The governor signs the bill into law or may veto all or part of it. If the governor fails to act on the bill, it may become law without a signature.
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​EFFECTIVE LEGISLATIVE PARTICIPATION
  1. ​Personal Visit. Call the office, introduce yourself, tell the legislator or the legislative assistant what you would like to discuss, and make an appointment for a visit.  If you plan a visit, be prepared for your discussion. Know what you want to say, be factual, and make your comments as brief and specific as you can.
  2. ​Attend a Townhall Meeting.
  3. ​Write a Letter. Express your views and request the member's attention through the mail. Make your letters brief, to the point, clear, and formal. Include your mailing address and phone number so the legislator knows where to respond.
  4. ​Send an e-Mail Message. Like letters, e-mails should be brief, to the point, clear, and formal. Include your name and mailing address, as well as your e-mail address, and let the legislator know how you'd prefer to be contacted.
  5. ​Call the Toll-free Legislative Hotline. You can call the toll-free Hotline at 1.800.562.6000 to leave a message on any issue.
  6. ​Testify Before a Committee.
Legislator Roster
Legislative Committees
Legislature Notifications
Citizen Participation Center