At Y-WE, we always encourage our young participants to use their voice and strive for change in their communities. One way to do this is to engage with local lawmakers. However, this process is often very inaccessible and confusing. We wanted to break down some of the barriers and provide a step-by-step process for getting involved in the 2023 Washington State legislative session. Between now and early April, state laws are being designed, so it’s the perfect time to make your voice heard.
What is the WA State Legislative session?
The Legislative Session is the time period when Senators and Representatives, those who are elected to represent the people, come together to make state laws. This year, it’s taking place from January to April.
Who represents you?
WA State has 49 legislative districts. Your district is determined by where you live. Each district elects one Senator and two Representatives who are supposed to represent the interests of the people in their district. You can find which district you are in and who represents you by entering your address by clicking here.
How does a bill become a law?
Senators and representatives:
- Create and introduce bills that they want to turn into law,
- Hold public hearing sessions to hear public opinion about each bill,
- And either reject, amend, and/or pass bills.
Then the Governor reviews the bills that passed through the legislature and either signs or vetoes the bills.
How to search and learn about bills
One of the easiest ways to read about bills is to search based on topics that you care about. Click here or google ‘bills by topic WA gov’ and click on bills and initiatives by topic. You can search for bills based on topics including health care, education, housing, gender issues, and many more!
How to make your voice heard
- VOTE! Pay attention to state elections and vote for the people you think will represent your interests.
- If you are unable to vote, you can still get involved by volunteering for a campaign or advocating for the person you want to represent you.
- Call, email or schedule an appointment with your district senator and representatives! Tell them what issues and bills are important to you and ask them how they plan to vote.
If there are certain bills you care about, go to: apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/ and type in the bill number. Then:
- On the right side of the page click ‘comment on this bill’
- Type in your information, click ‘support,’ ‘oppose,’ or ‘neutral’, and type in your thoughts in the comment section
We hope this is a helpful resource for making the legislative process a bit less intimidating, and we are always here if you have any questions! Feel free to reach out to our Programs, Outreach, & Advocacy manager, Karisa, if you’re looking for support.