Always helpful: How a Bill Becomes a Law.
This includes a detailed Legislative Process Overview.
And when you are lost in the vocabulary, be sure to check the Glossary.
January 24, 2023
Amendment alert! As you follow your one favorite bill, you will see that after it has had a public hearing, it may be scheduled for “executive action” — the vote in the policy committee on whether they are going to send it forward in the process. (What process? See the links at the top of the tips.) If there are amendments that are being proposed you need to read them, to find out whether someone is proposing to gut the bill, make it impossible to implement, or (more dramatic still), introduce a “striker” — a whole new text that replaces the one you lovingly worked through before. If you see anything alarming in the amendments, please alert the relevant working group clerk and send an individual note about your concerns to all the members of the committee individually. (They are listed on the committee information page [see Legislative Committees in the left-hand column] and their email addresses are email@example.com.) The working group clerk may want to propose an Action Alert to the whole working group or whole QV list about the amendments.
January 18, 2023
More information from the Committee Sign-In pages described on January 10 — you can see who else has signed in at the bottom of the sign-in form by clicking on the green button that reads “See who has signed in for this agenda item.” Here’s a graphic that leads you through the steps, thanks to Terry Thorsos. These listings stay up for 24 hours after the hearing start time and you can print them from the “print” button at the upper right-hand corner.
January 10, 2023
Signing in Pro or Con
Once you have a bill number, you can check to see which committee your bill is going through by looking at its page (leg.wa.gov, then Bill Information from the left-hand column, then go down to the bill history). If your bill is scheduled for a hearing this will be indicated in the bill history. If you want to sign in with your position on the bill, pro or con, go to leg.wa.gov/csi/ (for Committee Sign In). Using the drop-down menus, you can find the committee hearing and choose your bill. You will have to register your position at least one hour before the hearing starts.
Remember, you can also send a comment on the bill using the option at the top of the right-hand side of the bill information page.
January 6, 2023
Looking for your One Favorite Bill
Welcome to January. Staff are coming back from the holidays, the new legislators are officially in office, and session activity is getting underway. Websites are being updated and committee hearings are starting to be set. Here are some things you might want to check now on leg.wa.gov.
Choose a committee to follow
If you don’t have a specific bill yet that you eagerly want to follow, you might want to choose a policy committee to follow instead and just see what they are up to. The committees that handle most of our bills are listed at the bottom of this tip sheet.
The up-to-date committee names and members are now linked through the left-hand column of leg.wa.gov. You can sign up for emails from any (or all) of these by clicking through to their websites. The subscription for emails is at the bottom of the right-hand column once you get to the committee page. That will give you notice by email about their hearings. Their hearings schedules also appear on their websites and the overall schedule is here (be sure to set the date range for a few days ahead).
The committees generally schedule hearings on bills that they think have a chance, although they may schedule a few just to give the other side a voice. Even those “not-a-chance” bills will be super interesting to explore for those of us who want to bridge polarities in Washington politics.
When you “attend” a hearing (which you can do by watching TVW; the link to specific hearings will be posted with the hearing announcement and videos posted later), we would love to have you take some notes on the positions indicated in the testimony on the bills we are interested in. Who loves the bill? Who hates it? Why in each case? What members of the committee take the most interest and what questions do they ask? If you share a report on these aspects of the hearing (especially by email) with your working group, we will all be better informed on the prospects for the bill passing this year and what kinds of amendments might be introduced. (Yes – ugh– we have to read the amendments. But nasty things can sneak in …)
Find a specific bill by topic
If you have a general area you are interested in but want to shop for one specific bill that you want to follow, another option is to check the topical index here. The topics are pre-set – you don’t even have to develop much of your own search strategy! But at this point in time, you would need to read the bills (not easy). Bill summaries (plainer English) might not be available for a while (check back at the bill link to see whether they have been produced). You can also get a hint of whether you really like this bill by checking who the sponsors are and what else they are interested in.
Join a Quaker Voice working group
The list below gives links to committees where the priority bills for the working groups are most likely to appear. If you want more specific guidance, please join the working group list through its clerk (contact links are in each working group section of quakervoicewa.org).
Find the links to each committee through the left-hand column on leg.wa.gov, then Legislative Committees – House listed first, then Senate.
- House — Civil Rights and Judiciary
- House — Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry
- Senate — Law & Justice
- Senate — Human Services
- House — Health Care & Wellness
- House — Housing
- House — Human Services, Youth, & Early Learning
- Senate — Housing
- Senate – Human Services
- House – Agriculture and Natural Resources
- House – Environment & Energy
- House – Transportation
- Senate – Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks
- Senate – Environment, Energy, and Technology
December 10, 2022
Various areas of leg.wa.gov are starting to reflect the structures and actions of the upcoming session, while many are still showing information from the previous one. The opening date for the 2023-24 session appears at the top of Legislature Home (leg.wa.gov).
Leadership and Committees. The majority party, currently Democrats, have elected new leadership and re-organized committees. The old committees are still in operation until January 1, when the terms of incoming members start, so the old ones are still showing on Legislature Home.
But the decisions about new committees are appearing in the caucus sites, which are available from each chamber’s home page. Look for the relevant news item in the Senate Democratic Caucus page and click through to the full list of committees and assignments. Republican Senate committee assignments can be found through the parallel route.
The House versions of these lists should be appearing early next week. You can find them by going to the House home page and looking for the links to the caucuses.
Pre-filing of Bills. Starting December 5, legislators were able to “pre-file” bills and get numbers for them. All these bills will be introduced for action on the first day of the legislative session. To find the list, go to the left-hand column of leg.wa.gov and clink on “Bill Information.” “Pre-filed Bills” is one of the standard reports. There are lots already! They come up ordered by bill number. If you want to check for new ones each day, you can sort them by the date they were introduced by going to the “Date Filed” column and clicking in the gray bar at the top. This will give you a little arrow pointer, which let’s you sort the pre-filed bills in either ascending or descending order. Here’s the link.
Getting to know your new legislators. If retirements, redistricting, or elections gave your district new representatives or senators, it would be good for you to send greetings now and ask for an introductory visit to get to know their priorities better. Please report on your visit with the form at quakervoicewa.org: Legislative Visit Report — Quaker Voice (quakervoicewa.org)
Your current legislators and your district number can be found through the “Find Your District” page on leg.wa.gov. You can reach it through the left-hand column (always your best friend on Legislature Home). Once you enter your address, the map will show you your district and list your two current representatives and one current senator.
If you have new state senators or representatives, an easy way to find them is in news coverage introducing people joining (or moving from House to Senate in) the state legislature:
- Meet the Republicans joining the Washington State Legislature on January 9th, 2023 :: NPI’s Cascadia Advocate (nwprogressive.org),
- Meet the Democrats joining the Washington State Legislature on January 9th, 2023 :: NPI’s Cascadia Advocate (nwprogressive.org).
To do some background research, you might want to check their campaign websites, which you can find with a web search for “NAME campaign” or something similar.