The Basics on the Legislature and Legislative Session

The legislature can seem like an intimidating, enigmatic entity. But in reality legislators and the legislative process are much more accessible than you might think.

Below you’ll find information to help demystify our state’s legislature, legislative process, and the legislators themselves.

Click here for information specifically on the 2015 legislative session.

 

Find your legislators: Click here to find out which legislative district you live in and who your legislators are and here to find out which committees they’re on and who their legislative assistants are.

Here’s a handy map of our state’s legislative districts. If you want to order a free copy for yourself or your colleagues, you can do so here.

 

Legislative session basics:
The legislative cycle is two years long, and the two year period is referred to as a biennium. In every odd-numbered year the legislature passes a budget that will govern spending over the next two years (aka the biennium); the new budget kicks in on July 1st of that odd-numbered year.

Regular sessions begin the second Monday of every January. Even-numbered years have 60 day legislative sessions; odd-numbered years have 105 day sessions (it’s longer because they need to create, agree upon, and pass a budget!). Special sessions are called by the Governor to address specific issues, usually the budget. There can be any number of special sessions within the two-year cycle, and they can last no more than 30 days.

 

Legislation and the legislative process:
How a bill becomes a law: Need a primer on the ins and outs of the legislative process? This document will walk you through it. Only have a minute? Here’s the cliffs notes version.

Glossary of legislative terms: This list of terms will help you navigate the wacky world of legislative terminology.

Find a bill: You can search by bill number, or if you don’t know the number, you can search by topic or keyword.

Schedules and calendars: Looking for a specific committee meeting? Or want to know when the legislative session will conclude? You’ll find it here.

 

Getting involved in the legislative process:
Comment on a bill: You can provide direct feedback on a proposed piece of legislation. You can also email legislators or their staff directly using the convention firstname.lastname@leg.wa.gov.

Testify in committee: Testifying can be a great way to make your voice heard if you are especially well versed in a particular topic or piece of legislation.

 

Visiting the legislature:
Capitol Campus map: Navigating the Capitol is easier than you think, but it never hurts to have a map!

Parking information is also quite helpful.

Here’s more information on visiting the Capitol

 

Still don’t have the answer to your question? Check out this list of educational materials prepared by the legislative information center, or try contacting the legislative information center:

Toll-free hotline: 1-800-562-6000

Phone: (360) 786-7573

Email: support@leg.wa.gov

Location: Legislative Building (the Domed Capitol Building)-Rm 106

COMMENT