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Washington State Legislature. The Legislative Process How a Bill Becomes a Law How to Get Involved. The Legislative Process. The Washington State Legislature is a bicameral body with 49 members in the  Senate  and 98 members in the  House of Representatives .

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washington state legislature

Washington State Legislature

The Legislative Process

How a Bill Becomes a Law

How to Get Involved

the legislative process
The Legislative Process

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. 
  • Members of the Senate are elected to four-year terms, and House members are elected to two-year terms.
  • The citizen Legislature meets annually on the second Monday in January in the 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.
the legislative process1
The Legislative Process
  • The legislative cycle is two years long.
  • Within that two-year cycle, there are two kinds of legislative sessions: regular sessions and extraordinary, or special, sessions.

Regular Sessions

  • Mandated by the State Constitution and begin the second Monday in January each year. In the odd-numbered year, for example, 2013, the regular session is 105 days; in the even-numbered year, for example, 2014, it is 60 days.

Extraordinary Sessions

  • Called by the Governor to address specific issues, usually the budget. There can be any number of extraordinary sessions within the two-year cycle, and they can last no more than 30 days.
how to get involved
How to Get Involved
  • Know how the process works.
  • Do your homework.
  • Get to know your legislators AND local lobbying groups in your jurisdiction.
  • Network with other citizens and groups.

Washington State Flower: Coast Rhododendron

Washington State Bird: Willow Goldfinch

Washington State Fish: Steelhead Trout

get involved
Get Involved!

Know How the Process Works

  • Legislature’s Website www.leg.wa.gov
    • Bill information
    • Find your district & legislators
    • Links on how to read a bill
    • Contact information
  • Legislative Information Center – 360-786-7573

State Fruit: Apple

State Grass: Bluebunch Wheatgrass

get involved1
Get Involved!

Do Your Homework

  • Know the bill number & sponsors
  • Know the effect of passage and/or failure of the bill
  • Understand the fiscal impact of the bill
  • Be prepared to answer why you are interested in a particular issue

State Tree:

Western Hemlock

State Marine Mammal:

Columbian Mammoth

get involved2
Get Involved!

Get To Know Your Legislators

To make a difference in the legislative process, you must develop a relationship with your legislators.

  • 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.
  • Attend a Town Hall Meeting. Most legislators conduct periodic town hall meetings at various locations in their district.
  • Write a letter. Express your views and request the member's attention through the mail. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Testify before a committee. Make your views and positions known by testifying before a committee that is having public hearings on an issue or bill.

State Insect: Green Darner Dragonfly

State Vegetable: Walla Walla Sweet Onion


State Marine Mammal: Orca

How To Testify Before a Committee

  • Prepare Your Remarks.
    • Time is usually limited to 3-5 minutes, so be brief and direct.
    • Written testimony should not be read at committee hearings.
    • Committee staff will distribute copies of written testimony to members of the committee if you bring a sufficient number -- one for each member.
    • Writing your comments in outline form will be helpful when you speak, and you should summarize your written testimony.
    • Practice your remarks in advance with a timer to ensure brevity.
  • Avoid Duplication
    • If other persons will be offering similar testimony at the hearing, try to coordinate your testimony and avoid duplication.
    • Well organized testimony is the most effective.

State Ship: Lady Washington

State Amphibian:

Pacific Chorus Frog



  • Signing in
    • House of Representatives: locate the paper sign-up sheet near the entrance of the hearing room and write your name, address, and whether you favor or oppose the bill.
    • Senate: now done electronically; locate the committee sign-in kiosk either in the committee hearing room or in the hallway outside the hearing room and fill in the required fields (name, address, support/oppose, etc.)
get involved3
Get Involved!

Testifying – Making Your Remarks

  • Begin by introducing yourself to the chair and committee members and stating your purpose. For example, "Mr. or Madam Chair and members of the committee, I am John Doe from Spokane. I am here representing myself. I support this bill because . . ."
  • In your opening remarks, make it clear whether you are representing other citizens or a separate group.
  • Be brief and be sure your remarks are clear. Avoid being too technical and do not repeat previously made remarks. You do not need to be nervous or worried about how you present your testimony.
  • Be prepared for questions and comments from committee members. These are designed to gain additional information, but don't answer if you are not sure of the answer. Tell the members you will send a written answer to the committee, and then follow through.
  • Restrict yourself to your testimony. Abstain from other overt demonstrations such as clapping, cheering, booing, etc.

It’s not as complicated as it seems!

WSEMA Legislative Chair, legislative@wsema.com

Dylan Doty, WSEMA Lobbyist:

206-790-6492, dylandoty@yahoo.com