by Gabriel Neuman, Policy Counsel and Government Relations Manager
The upcoming State legislative session, starting January 9th, welcomes many new faces this session with many long-standing legislative members having retired. The House welcomed 24 new members, which includes two past legislators returning to the chamber. The Senate is bringing one new Senator, one returning Senator, and five House members moving over to the Senate. That’s a lot of new faces! The “red wave” that was expected in the elections did not come to pass, and in Olympia, Democrats picked up a seat in both the House and Senate:
2019 – 2022
- House: 41 Republicans and 57 Democrats
- Senate: 21 Republicans and 28 Democrats
2023 – 2024
- House: 40 Republicans and 58 Democrats
- Senate: 20 Republicans and 29 Democrats
This is the “long session” of the biennium, running 105 consecutive days beginning on January 9, and concluding on April 23 at midnight. The Legislature is fully back in person for the first time since 2020, but there may still be some changes ahead. We expect that remote testimony and virtual meetings with Legislators will continue, but the rules are not set yet.
This will be a “budget year” where the Biennial Operating, Capital, and Transportation Budgets all need to be developed and passed. The Governor’s budget was just released identifying his priorities for his cabinet agencies, and the Legislature takes over from here.
Governor Inslee continues his term and with Democrats are in the majority in both Houses, Speaker of the House, Laurie Jinkins, and Senate Majority Leader, Andy Billig, and Chairs of all the committees will be Democrats.
In the Senate, Sen. Derek Stanford will Chair the Business, Financial Services, Gaming and Trade Committee replacing Sen. Mark Mullet.
In the House, Rep. Amy Walen, steps in as Chair of the Consumer Protection & Business Committee, taking over for Chair Kirby. Rep. Walen is a business owner and we’re excited to work with her in her new role, as well as returning Rep. Kristine Reeves as Vice Chair. Rep. Chris Corry is the ranking Republican with four freshman Republicans in a new 13 member committee.