Start of Legislative Session

By: Brad Boswell and Brooke Davies Posted: 01/11/2021

Learn more about the priority areas including budget, COVID-19 response, social justice and racial equity, and climate change

Today, Monday January 11, marks the first day of the 2021 Legislative Session. In anticipation of disruptions, Governor Jay Inslee has called in the National Guard to help with security at the Capitol Campus in Olympia. Following the in-person activities on the first day of the session, virtual committee hearings will begin on Tuesday. You can view the full committee calendar here.

The first policy cut off is expected to be on February 15, approximately five weeks from the first day of session. The volume of bills considered by committees this year will be significantly limited due to the realities of conducting a virtual session. Legislators in both chambers have been encouraged to limit the number of bills they introduce, allowing the legislature to focus on critical and urgent needs of the state at this time. Priority areas include budget/revenue, COVID-19 response, social justice and racial equity, and climate change.

The first week of session will be full of important hearings including the Governor’s unemployment insurance bill, low-carbon fuel standards, data privacy, and police reform bill. Both the Senate and House have released operating guidelines for this unique virtual session, along with remote sign-in options for committees. It is important to note that all committee sign-ins will close one hour before the hearing. Individuals can sign up to present virtual testimony, submit written testimony, or simply note their position on the record.

Unemployment Insurance
There will be several bills related to unemployment insurance and worker protections this session. Senator Keiser’s UI bill, SB 5061, will be heard in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, January 13 at 10:30 a.m.

Housing
We expect several housing-related bills to be discussed this year, including bills related to MFTE and continued condominium liability reform. Tomorrow, January 12, the Senate Law & Justice committee will be hearing SB 5024 , related to reducing barriers to condominium construction. Additionally, Senator Lovelett (D-40) has introduced SB 5012 , a tax on short term rental to fund affordable housing. The bill is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, January 13 in the Senate Committee on Housing & Local Government at 10:30 a.m.

Police Reform
Legislation establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by peace officers, HB 1054, introduced by Rep. Jesse Johnson is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, January 12, in the House Committee on Public Safety at 8:00 a.m.

Important Dates:

  • Feb. 15 – House of Origin Policy Cutoff
  • Feb. 22 – House of Origin Fiscal Cutoff
  • Mar. 9 – House of Origin Floor Cutoff
  • Mar. 26 – Opposite House Policy Cutoff
  • Apr. 2 – Opposite House Fiscal Cutoff
  • Apr. 11 – Opposite House Floor Cutoff
  • Apr. 25 – Sine Die (End of Session)