Help with Legislative Documents

The main business of the Legislature is bills -- proposals to change the laws of the state -- and LEGInfo has a lot of information about bills in many formats. Bill history information is updated as it happens; documents are updated as they become available. Go to How a Bill Becomes a Law for details on the legislative process.

Bill Summary Page
Finding Bills When You Don't Know the Number
Bill Versions
Other Bill-Related Documents

Bill Summary Page

Each bill has a home page. When you know the number or a keyword for the bill, you can use the following method to obtain most of the information about that bill.

  1. On the Bill Information page, type the four digits of the bill number, for example, 1234. You do not need to type SB or EHB or any other prefix. 
  2. Click the Search button.
  3. The summary page for the bill appears.
    Or a list of the bills meeting the keyword criteria appears. Click the link for the bill number, and the summary page for the bill appears.

The summary page displays

  • a brief description of the bill
  • the sponsors
  • the companion bill (if any)
  • the bill history
  • links to all versions of the bill (in PDF format)
  • amendments
  • bill reports
  • digests
  • roll calls

Finding Bills When You Don't Know the Number

You may know something about the bill but not the number. Here are some options for finding the bill.

Full Text Search

Click the link called Search the full text of a bill on the Bill Information page. That link will take you to the Legislative Search page with the bill search base and the current biennium preselected. Enter a search term and click the Search button to execute the search.

You may also use the Topical Index prepared by the Code Reviser's Office. You can search by topic or letter. The index is updated daily.

By Sponsor

Each member's home page provides a link to the list of bills he or she has sponsored for the current biennium.

By Committee

LEGInfo provides a list of bills reported out of committee each day. To retrieve the report, click Standing Committee Reports, then click the report for the desired chamber and date.

These reports use abbreviations for the committees and committee actions. Most bills are reported DP (Do Pass), DPS (Do Pass Substitute), or DPA (Do Pass as Amended).

LEGInfo does not provide a list of bills referred to each committee.

By RCW Citation

You can find a bill by the RCW section it affects or get a list of bills that displays with RCW sections each bill affects. Click Bill/Law Cross Reference and select the appropriate tab.

Current Status

To see the current status of the bill, use the bill's summary page to see the history. Another option is to use the Daily Status. That lists all the bills and displays the current status. To get the information for each bill on one line, the Daily Status uses a lot of abbreviations.

Bills that Have Passed the Legislature

When bills have passed the Legislature, they go to the Governor's desk for signature. Once he or she has signed the bill, it goes to the Secretary of State's office and is assigned a Session Law chapter number. LEGInfo provides a Session Law Chapter to Bill Table, in chapter number order and bill number order. That's your best source for a list of bills that have passed the Legislature.  To access this information, click Bill/Law Cross Reference and select the appropriate tab.

Initiatives and Referenda

LEGInfo also provides access to initiatives that have been submitted to the People of the State of Washington and to the Legislature, and referenda that will appear on the ballot at the general election.

The Secretary of State's web site provides a lot of good information about the initiative process, the sponsors of the initiatives, and their ballot titles.

Bills from Previous Sessions

LEGInfo provides information back to the 1997-98 Session. Click Bill Information, then select the "Historical" tab. For information on bills from before 1997, contact the Legislative Information Center at 1.800.562.6000.

Bill Versions

As a bill moves through the legislative process, it gets a new designation each time it changes. Go to How a Bill Becomes a Law for more details about the process.

  • Original Bill. This is the bill as introduced. If on a list of bills all you see is the four-digit bill number, for example, 1234, the bill hasn't been changed.
  • Substitute Bill. A committee in the house of origin can offer its own version of the bill, referred to as a substitute bill. This could appear on reports as 1234-S or S 1234 or SHB 1234 (HB=House Bill). Some bills go to a second committee, which offers it own version. Then you might see 1234-S2 or 2S 1234 or 2SHB 1234.
  • Engrossed Bill. When a bill is amended on the floor in the first house, the amendments are worked into the bill, "engrossed," before the bill is sent to the second house. Substitutes can also be amended on the floor. So, you might see 1234.E, E 1234 or EHB 1234; or, if there is a substitute bill, 1234-S.E, ES 1234, or ESHB 1234. Some bills, especially in the second year of the biennium, might go back to the floor in the first house and be amended a second or third time. Then you get complicated designations like 1234-S2.E2, 2E2S 1234, or 2E2SHB 1234.
  • Passed Legislature. A bill must pass both houses of the Legislature to be considered passed. That is the version of the bill that goes to the Governor. It has a certificate that is signed by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, and by the Chief Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate. In Search or the Topical Index, you might see 1234.PL or 1234-S.PL.
  • Session Law. When the Governor has signed or vetoed the bill, the Code Reviser's Office creates the Session Law version. Until the legislation is codified in the RCW, this is the law. The Session Law version of the bill notes the chapter number, the effective date, and any vetoes. In Search or the Topical Index, you might see 1234.SL or 1234-S.SL.

Other Bill-Related Documents

Bills have many associated documents that indicate changes, summarize the bill, or report on roll call votes.

Amendments

Amendments are proposals to change the content of the bill. To be considered, they must be placed on the bar of the House or Senate, that is, handed to the Chief Clerk or the Secretary of the Senate.

Amendments have very complicated names. You might see something like

  • 5937-S AMS CARL CUTL 003
  • 5937-S AMH APP H2775.1

AMS means Senate amendment; AMH means House amendment. The next set of letters indicates the sponsor of the amendment, for example CARL for Senator Carlson or APP for the House Appropriations Committee. The next set of letters and numbers indicates who prepared the amendment, for example, CUTL 003 means third draft prepared by Cutler, and H2775.1 means it was prepared by the Code Reviser's Office and given an internal tracking number.

Bill Reports

A bill report is an analysis prepared by the staff of the committee that heard the bill. It provides some legislative history, how it was reported by committee, background information, a summary of the legislation (in English rather than legal language), a summary of the testimony in committee, and a list of who testified. Not all bills are heard in committee, so not all bills get bill reports.

The House Office of Program Research (OPR) prepares bill reports for all House and Senate bills heard by House committee. Senate Committee Services (SCS) prepares bill reports for all House and Senate bills heard by Senate committee. If the bill passes the Legislature, the committee staff in the house of origin prepare the final bill report.

Bill reports change as the bill moves through the legislative process. LEGInfo provides the current version of the bill report. A bill that has passed the Legislature has three bill reports: House, Senate, and Final.

Digests

The Code Reviser's Office prepares summaries of all introduced legislation, called digests. As a rule, digests are more succinct than the summaries contained in bill reports. If the bill or part of it is vetoed, the digest includes the veto message.

Roll Calls

When you click the link for a roll call, LEGInfo displays the date the vote was taken, the motion being voted on (usually third reading and final passage), and who voted yea, who voted nay, who was absent, and who was excused. Not all bills get this far in the process, so not all bills have roll calls.