Whether you support or oppose legislation being considered during session, it is important as residents of Washington State to know how to participate in the legislative process. The following list will have links to the public legislative website where you can search for and track particular bills, find out where the bill is in the legislative process, and explain how you can show support/opposition to bills. You will find links to the Washington State Legislative website throughout this document.
· To search for and track any legislation, head to https://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/ where you can search for the bill by number or specific text in the bill. By going to its page, you can find where the bill is in the legislative process under the heading Bill History. You can also find the bill’s official text and bill summary under the heading Documents. The bill summary is especially helpful, because it provides a simple overview of the bill in layman’s terms.
If you are interested in voicing your opposition or support for a bill, there are different routes you can take to provide your input. First, you need to know which chamber has the bill. If the bill is in the House, you need to focus on members there. If the bill is in the Senate, you need to be talking to Senators. You can find out exactly where the bill is on the bill history page.
· If a bill is scheduled for public hearing and you would like to testify, please follow the link for additional information.
· If you wish to encourage members of the committee to either continue to move the bill forward or not let it out of committee via email or phone call, follow the link for further information. Once you click on the link for the correct committee, find a link called “Committee Members & Staff” on the top of the left-hand side of the page. This link will direct you to all members in the committee. Contacting the members of the committee via email or phone call is a great way to inform Legislative members how citizens of Washington state feel about particular bills.
Several points to keep in mind –
1. If you plan to contact any legislative office please be respectful. Part of the process includes persuading your legislator to understand your position. Use reasoned arguments, but always be polite, so your views will be seriously considered.
2. If you are interested in a House bill (the bill number will begin with the letters HB and have a number that is in the 1000 – 2999 range), you need to contact your House member before the cutoff for that bill to be heard. The date for the cutoff is around halfway through the legislative session. Then, if the bill passes the House, you need to contact your Senator during the second half of the session. Of course, the opposite is true if you are looking at a Senate bill. (the bill name begins with SB and the numbers are in the 5000-6999)
3. Most legislators pay attention primarily to only their own constituents. They are the ones who are elect the legislator and whose views need to be considered when voting on issues. If you want to get a message to someone who doesn’t represent you, the best way to do that is to contact people you know in those other districts and give them the information needed to get the message to their legislator.
4. Bills are sometimes scheduled for hearings just a few days after the hearing date and time are posted, so it’s a good idea to monitor the bill history page closely. Check it a couple of times a day, so you don’t miss when the hearing is scheduled. Letters and phone calls are effective, but it is most effective when citizens show up in large numbers to testify. Even if you don’t want to testify, you can sign in as opposed or supporting the legislation, and it will still send a message.
If you are interested in a general overview of the steps in the legislative process, please follow the link.