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Zimmerman's Research Guide


Washington State - Legislative History

Legislative History: Washington State has a considerable amount of legislative history materials. You can get them from three sources: (1) The Washington State Legislature web site; (2) the Washington State Law Library; and (3) the Washington State Archives.

(1) Washington State Legislature web site: The Washington State Legislature's web site has extensive legislative history materials starting with the 1990-1991 legislative session. Here's a walk-through of how to get them.

  • Look up your section in the Revised Code of Washington (RWC). Note the Chapter Law citations following the text of the section.
  • Put the RCW section into the Bills by Citation search and adjust the pull down menu on the top, right to the year of the first Chapter Law you care about.
  • Wade through the hit list of bills until you find one where the "Status" is your session law.
  • Click on the bill number to pull up a bill tracking report, which will link to any available Bill Drafts, Session Laws, Reports, Committee Materials and Votes.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page to get Bill Drafts, Session Laws, Amendments, Fiscal Notes, Bill Digests and Reports.

You can search entries from some House Journals and Senate Journals from 1993-current through the Washington Legislature's Legislative Search page. Under "Document Selection" select "Journal" and then specify the years you wish to search. You can use this option to find mentions of your bill in the Journals.

(2) Washington State Law Library: The Washington State Law Library can get you copies of session laws, bill drafts, house and senate journals for all bills and Final Bill Reports starting with bills introduced in the mid-1970s. If you don't have the bill number, they can look that up for you. Call the Library for questions at 360-357-2136; email copy requests to library.requests@courts.wa.gov or use the form on their Copy Requests page. Fees are posted on the Copy Requests page.

(3) The Washington State Archives Once you have a bill number, you can call the Washington State Archives (360-586-1492) to order the following materials, or you can send your request by email to Research@sos.wa.gov.

  • House and Senate Committee Bill Files (starting somewhere in the 1970s);
  • Committee Tapes (starting around 1983);
  • Floor Debate Tapes (starting around 1983);
  • Governor's Bill Files (1951-55, 1965-84 - only for signed legislation);
  • Papers of the Governor (hit-or-miss; generally compiled after the Governor leaves office);
  • Legislative Council Records (1947-1974 - highly selective coverage).

See the Archives' Legislative History page for more information on what they have and how to get it.

For more on Washington legislative history see "Legislative History in Washington," Part III, Finding Legislative History in Washington, 7 Univ. Puget Sound L. Rev. 571 (1984).

See Also
State Legislative History
Washington State

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman