Washington legislature

Courtesy of University of Washington

The Washington Senate has voted to help property owners remove racially-discriminatory language from some of their homes’ documents.

The bill was approved unanimously and sponsored by Issaquah Democrat Mark Mullet.

"This bill does two important things," he said.

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The Washington and Idaho legislatures are in the homestretches of their respective sessions. Lawmakers are working to finalize budgets and put the finishing touches on a variety of bills.

In Washington, the Rules Committees [chaired in the Senate by Lt. Gov. Denny Heck, above] have an important role in determining which bills move on and which ones die. Today we get a Civics 101 lesson from Sen. Andy Billig [D-Spokane], a Rules Committee member.  

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The Washington and Idaho legislatures are moving into the final weeks of their 2021 sessions.

Citizens interested in specific bills can track them online using their assigned bill numbers. Those rarely change. But sometimes in Washington the letters attached to bills do change, and they provide clues as to the bills’ legislative journeys.

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The Washington and Idaho legislatures are right in the thick of their 2021 sessions. Idaho lawmakers expect to finish by March 26. Washington’s session is scheduled to end on April 25.

Even during sessions held during a pandemic, people who can’t travel to Olympia or Boise can keep an eye on what their elected representatives are doing. In Idaho, most of the proceedings are viewable online through Idaho Public Television. In Washington, coverage is provided by TVW.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The Washington House on Tuesday unanimously approved a wildfire prevention and forest health bill and sent it to the Senate.

Among other things, the bill would create a fund that would receive $125 million each biennium. That would pay for programs that help to make communities and forested areas less susceptible to wildfires, says Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz.

Courtesy of the University of Washington

The Washington Senate on Thursday approved a bill aimed at reducing the severity of what could be a massive wave of evictions.

Washington’s year-long eviction moratorium is due to end on March 31. Sen. Patty Kuderer [D-Bellevue] is anticipating a wave of eviction notices for tenants who have fallen behind in their rent.

Washington House Approves Police Reform Bill

Feb 28, 2021
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The Washington House voted Saturday for a package of police reforms aimed, in part, at reducing the number of violent police-public encounters.

House members took their turn telling stories about their service or someone close to them as law enforcement officers.

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The Washington and Idaho legislatures are different in many ways. Democrats control both chambers in Olympia. Republicans are in charge in Boise.

But the pandemic has united legislators in the two states in one specific way. They’re each working to increase their authority during emergencies by calling themselves into special sessions. 

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board

Washington legislators are moving quickly to help restaurants and alcohol-related companies through the pandemic.

A state Senate committee on Thursday approved a bill that gives restaurants and bars more flexibility in providing alcohol for take out.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A Spokane state representative’s bill to make changes to local health districts has passed out of committee in the Washington state House.

Rep. Marcus Riccelli’s bill would require counties, including Spokane, to form comprehensive public health districts.

Re:Building Democracy

Feb 9, 2021

Democracy works best when the people being governed are engaged in civic life. That certainly was the case in 2020, a year with a lot of elements that sparked people’s passions.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane business leaders are making a last minute push to convince voters to cast ballots for school levies on the February 9 ballot.

Thirteen Spokane County school districts have submitted measures for maintenance and operations levies. Four also have levies that would pay for capital projects.

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A Washington legislative committee heard testimony Wednesday on a bill that would allow businesses shuttered by the pandemic to partially reopen.

More than 1,600 people signed up to weign in on legislation that takes aim at Governor Inslee’s latest re-opening plan.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz has called for the legislature to support a bill that would provide a dedicated funding source for wildfire response and forest health work.

Franz says the bill would provide $125 million every biennium to fund new firefighters and aircraft and work to upgrade existing helicopters.

Franz Works To Engage WA Legislators On Wildfire Issues

Dec 27, 2020
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Covid-related aid and police reform will be two of the major issues before the Washington legislature when it convenes next month.

But newly-reelected Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz hopes legislators will also consider dedicating more funding for wildfire and forest health projects.

Courtesy of Dave Lucas

Republican Dave Lucas is running for the Senate seat in Washington’s Third Legislative District. His opponent is Sen. Andy Billig [D-Spokane]. In this interview, Lucas talks with Doug Nadvornick about the issues he considers most important for the 2021 legislature. Doug also asks his positions on a variety of issues, including the state’s response to the coronavirus, funding for public health and wildfire prevention and suppression, and police reform.

Washington House Republican communications

Rep. Mike Volz (R-Spokane) is running for re-election against Democrat Zach Zappone in Washington’s Sixth Legislative District. Volz is also deputy treasurer for Spokane County.

Doug Nadvornick asks his positions on a variety of issues, including the state’s response to the coronavirus, funding for public health and wildfire prevention and suppression, and police reform.

Courtesy of Andy Billig

Sen. Andy Billig [D-Spokane] is running for a third term. The Senate Majority Leader faces a challenge from Republican Dave Lucas in the November general election. In this interview, Billig talks with Doug Nadvornick about the past legislative session and the issues he considers most important for the 2021 legislature. Doug also asks his positions on a variety of issues, from the state’s response to the coronavirus, funding for public health and wildfire prevention and suppression, and police reform.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Today on Inland Journal and the Inland Journal podcast, the coronavirus hijacked the Washington legislative session during its last couple of weeks. Lawmakers worked to approve a $200 million package aimed at helping people affected by Covid-19.

We’ll talk with two Spokane area legislators about that and other accomplishments from the session. Coronavirus could be a big issue in correctional facilities.

We’ll hear about the closure of Spokane’s non-profit legal clinic, the Center for Justice. Those stories and more on Inland Journal.

Washington Legislators Act On Wide Variety Of Bills

Feb 18, 2020

On Tuesday, for a second day in a row, Washington legislators continued to approve or deny a pile of bills.

The House voted today to double the penalties for drivers stopped for using phones and other electronic devices while driving through school zones.

Idaho Public Television

Both the Washington and Idaho legislatures were on duty during this federal Presidents’ Day holiday.

In Olympia, Washington legislators used Presidents’ Day as an opportunity to approve a large number of bills. At least three focused on health care and prescription drug costs.

Washington Legislature Opens Its 2019 Session

Jan 14, 2019

The Washington legislature opened its 2019 session today [Monday].

In the House, Seattle Democrat Frank Chopp was chosen for the final time as Speaker of the body. He’s held that position since 1999, but plans to make this his final year in leadership.

A Civics Lesson About Making Laws in Olympia

Jan 3, 2019
Marcus Riccelli

Washington and Idaho legislators go back to work this month. Idaho’s legislators have already been sworn in. The gavel drops on their 2019 session on Monday. Washington’s lawmakers reconvene in Olympia a week later.

Today, Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane) gives us a civics lesson about the process of making laws in Olympia. Riccelli will begin his fourth term on January 14.


Democrats in the Washington state Senate have chosen Andy Billig as the new Senate majority leader. 

Billig has been in the state Senate since 2010, and served as minority whip, deputy minority and deputy majority leader. He says being majority leader should put him a good place to work on issues important to Spokane.

Spokane Cares

The Washington House has taken a step toward punishing people who misrepresent their animals as service animals.


Some of the bills a legislative body like the Washington legislature considers each year are serious and important. Many are mundane; simple fixes to existing law. And some are light-hearted.

House Committee Votes to Lower School Bond Threshold

Feb 2, 2018
Doug Nadvornick/SPR

A Washington state Senate committee voted Friday to lower the threshold for approving school bond issues.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR/TVW

A western Washington legislator is working to change a state law that forbids officials from planning an evacuation or relocation of people after a nuclear attack.

Washington Legislature Takes Up Gun Bills

Jan 18, 2018
NBC News

The new legislative session in Washington has revived debates about several contentious issues: property rights, water rights and development in rural areas, a possible carbon tax and, this week, limitations on the ownership of guns and gun accessories.

On Monday, the Senate Law and Justice Committee, with Democrats back in the majority, held hearings on several gun control bills.

Washington Senate Committee Votes to Ban "Bumpstocks"

Jan 16, 2018
Enrique Perez de la Rosa/Northwest News Network

A Washington state Senate committee this morning (Tuesday) approved a bill that would ban so-called “bumpstocks.”