Last week the Washington State Capitol opened up for the People's business!!! In a “short” 60-day session that falls on a presidential election year when most state lawmakers must also face voters themselves, the “People’s business” means tackling massive problems and general systemic rot with watered-down policies that died last year, new bills that will get watered down this year, and some virtue-signaling proposals designed to boost electoral/reelection campaigns. 

And with general election voters likely to decide the fate of six right-wing, astroturfed initiatives to repeal some major, recent center-left legislation on policing, taxes, and the climate, we can expect lawmakers to greet bills that would actually solve problems with even more trepidation than they normally would. 

All that said, the economic forecast gave the state more than $1 billion to use to edit the two-year budget passed last year, which isn’t nothing. Gov. Jay Inslee wants to dump almost half of it into behavioral health care stuff (with most of it going to facilities). He also wants to use $140 million for eviction prevention (unclear what kind), affordable housing construction, and highway sweeps, and then use $64 million to pay paraeducators more. 

Aside from big new budget items, there are hundreds of other reasons to pay attention to this year’s session in Olympia. With more than a handful of reps seeking higher office this year, the gossip and back-biting alone will keep things interesting. Plus, if passed, some of the following bills really would improve or devastate the lives of millions of Washingtonians, so it’s worth keeping an eye or ten on what these motherfuckers are up to! 

To that end, here’s the list of bills we’re tracking. 

Renters’ Rights 

HB 2114/SB 5961: Looks like it’s West Seattle Rep. Emily Alvarado’s turn to carry the anti-rent gouging bill this year. This iteration caps rent increases at 5% in buildings built more than ten years ago, excluding public housing. Looks like the bill also prevents landlords from charging month-to-month tenants more than those with longer tenancies, too, which should cut down on coercive nonsense. Sen. Yasmin Trudeau will carry the bill in the Senate. The House version may pass out of committee today, Jan 16. 

HB 2161: This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson, would create a court process that allows tenants to sue for relief against landlords who violate state landlord/tenant law, break the lease, or engage in “unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices.” Seems good. 

Housing Supply 

HB 1998/SB 5901: This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Mia Gregerson in the House and Sen. Jesse Salomon in the Senate, would legalize apodments (aka “micro-units,” or “co-living spaces” lol) near apartments statewide. 

HB 2160/SB 6024: Governor Jay Inslee’s office asked the Legislature to consider this legislation to increase housing density near train stops and bus rapid transit stops. Rep. Julia Reed and Sen. Yasmin Trudeau will try to navigate the many expected challenges to the bill, including calls for more parking requirements, affordable unit minimums, elven trees in the middle of the lobbies, etc. 

HB 2071: But what if the apartment building itself was an elven tree? This bill would answer that question by making it easier to build super-energy-efficient apartments. 

HB 2113: Rep. Jessica Bateman continues her quest to increase the supply of housing with this legislation to basically make it harder for cities and counties to block affordable housing construction. The backward-ass associations that represent mayors and county executives came out in opposition to this bill, but hopefully Bateman can make something happen. 


HB 1977: Republican Rep. Peter Abbarno wants to make Tenino sandstone the state rock. This is granite erasure and I won’t stand for it. 

Criminal Justice and Police Accountability  

HB 1513/SB 5572: Cops use bullshit excuses to mask their racial profiling, and this bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Chipalo Street and in the Senate by Sen. Javier Valdez, would give police fewer opportunities to do that. The legislation would stop cops from citing some equipment failure, expired tabs, and driving with a suspended license as the primary reasons for pulling over someone. 

SB 6021: In prison, a phone call will run you 5 cents per minute and a video visit will run you $5 per half hour. This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Drew Hansen, would tell the Department of Corrections to provide free phone calls and electronic communications for all prisoners. The fact that we currently make prisoners work for little money and then spend the little money they make to connect with the outside world so their loved ones can affirm their value as human beings makes me feel crazy. 

HB 2358: After members of the pro-Palestinian movement blocked I-5 for four hours last week, a group of Republicans and Democrats (disappointingly but unsurprisingly including Rep. David Hackney) joined forces to drop this legislation designed to crush protest. The bill would make blocking a highway a gross misdemeanor (punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine), and perhaps unconstitutionally criminalize the act of organizing such protests as a Class C felony, which lands people in jail for five years max and could garner fines as high as $10,000. 

HB 1579: Don’t you think it’d be great for independent investigators to investigate police misconduct, rather than other cops or prosecutors who work very closely with departments? So does Rep. Monica Stonier, who introduced this bill to establish an Office of Independent Prosecutions. The bill carried over from last year to this year, and now it’s sitting in Appropriations. 

HB 1025: You should be able to sue cops when they violate your civil rights, otherwise they’ll keep doing it! I have little faith that this bill to kill qualified immunity for cops will even move this year, but it has technically been reintroduced, so it’s technically watchable. 

HB 1963: Think you can get around traffic cameras by purchasing license plate covers? Well, this legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bill Ramos, would outlaw such covers. 

HB 1994: Rep. Darya Farivar wants to allow judges, defense attorneys, and prosecutors to make motions to dismiss misdemeanor and gross misdemeanors if they think the defendant has jumped through enough legal hoops. It’s a common-sense proposal that will mostly serve as an off-ramp for defendants with major health issues, and it makes prosecutors a little less powerful, so of course Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison and King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion oppose it. 

HB 1999/HB 5962: This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Tina Orwall in the House and Sen. Mark Mullet in the Senate, makes it illegal to create, possess, distribute, or view digital porn crafted from the likeness of a real person under the age of 18. Welcome to the age of AI!

HB 1958: If you secretly remove a protective barrier during sex, your victim can sue you for $5,000. Vivian wrote more about the bill here


HB 1984: Some Republican I’ve never heard of wants to make the Pacific razor clam the state clam. Pshhhhhh, I’m a Manila man myself, so I stand firmly against this.  

Health Care

HB 1263/SB 5241: It sucks when religious institutions merge with hospitals as part of a crusade to eliminate reproductive health care, death with dignity, and gender-affirming care–a movement that has largely already happened right here in sunny Seattle! (Thanks to these kinds of mergers, you can’t get abortions and other basic health care at Swedish or Virginia Mason.) These bills would give the Attorney General some power to block future mergers if they would lead to the denial of these procedures. 

HB 1922: Republicans and Democrats find common ground in this bill, which would waste state money on a grant program to buy vape detectors. My friends in Olympia, please read the news before signing onto bills! 

HB 1937: More dunderheaded policy coming out of the House temperance caucus. This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Clyde Shavers, who made a name for himself by lying about the extent of his military service and his lawyer jobs, would require health care workers to report suspected victims of human trafficking. Despite what I’m sure are the good intentions of its sponsors, all this bill will do is make sex workers avoid health care institutions. 

HB 1979: Following up on the success of lowering insulin costs for some people on Medicare, with this bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Paul, health insurance companies would have to offer plans that price a 30-day supply of inhalers and epi-pens at $35. 

HB 2119: The fact that we live in a country where people can go into debt for medical expenses reveals our fundamental barbarity and lack of compassion. This bill from Rep. Marcus Riccelli would take a step toward creating a more civilized society by preventing courts from garnishing wages based on judgements arising from medical debt. They better pass the fuck out of this one. 


HB 1473/SB 5486: Rep. My-Linh Thai and Sen. Noel Frame return the wealth tax for consideration this year. The trailblazing bill would establish a 1% on tax on anything over $250 million, which would help rebalance our tax code and provide money to pay for all the gazillion problems that such inequity manifests. The bill was re-introduced automatically, and given the current political climate, I’d be shocked if it moved an inch. 

HB1670/SB 5770: Because of some dumb Tim Eyman bullshit, our property tax levies can’t keep up with inflation, so all our levies produce relatively less and less money as time goes on. This legislation would allow counties to raise property tax collections 3% (up from the arbitrary cap of 1%) per year so we can keep paying for desperately needed services. Rep. Timm Ormsby is pushing the same measure through the House. 

There are also a number of bills that aim to give rich people breaks on the estate tax and real estate excise taxes, but they’re too boring to write about, so JUST KNOW I’M WATCHING, Rep. Walen!!! 


HB 1094/SB 5125: At the request of State Treasurer Mike Pellicciotti, Rep. Monica Stonier and Sen. Yasmin Trudeau will have another go at pushing this “baby bonds” program through the Legislature. The bill would set aside $4,000 for every Medicaid baby. As those babies grow strong or weak or whatever, their money will accrue interest, and if the kids are still poor at 18, then they can tap those funds for college, trade school, or new business expenses. 

HB 2058/SB 5964: Because we do not live in a good and true and free society, we do not give all school children free meals. This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Riccelli and Sen. T’wina Nobles, would give free meals to children who ask, with a couple of technical exceptions. What is this Oliver Twist nonsense? We’re literally gonna make them say, “Please, sir, I want some more”? Give the kids free lunch! We trap them there! It’s the least we can do! 

HB 1045: Seattle Rep. Liz Berry will try again to push through her bill to establish a pilot basic income program in Washington. The measure would give 7,500 poor people the equivalent of the amount of money needed to pay for a market-rate two-bedroom apartment for two years. Hoorah. 

Gift Cards  

HB 2094: Looks like this legislation from Rep. Alvarado will make gift cards less annoying, more useful, and fairer. The bill would broaden the definition of gift card to include electronic versions (lol the law moves so slowly), allow you to cash out gift cards at $50 rather than just at $5 or lower, and require stores to allow customers to combine cash and gift cards when making purchases. 

HB 2095/SB 5988: According to Washington Community Action Network, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of poor people, companies claimed unspent gift cards as revenue to the tune of $255 million last year. This legislation, carried by Rep. Alvarado and Sen. Trudeau, would require companies to send that unspent gift card money to the state instead of pocketing it for profit. So, if you don’t use a gift card in three years, that money would return to us in the form of services, which sounds fun. 


HB 1882/SB 5723: Rep. Farivar and Sen. Valdez want to give cities the option to hold elections on even years rather than odd years, which routinely see lower turnout numbers. The move would likely be more democratic and cool and probably slightly better for progressive incrementalists and charming socialists, but it might hurt our bottom line here at The Stranger, so I stand firmly against it. (JK, I’ll do anything for representational democracy.) Rep. Gregerson has another bill, HB 1932, that more or less does the same thing. 

HB 1885/SB 5832: Rep Sharlett Mena and Sen. Joe Nguyen join forces on this bill to repeal the ban on foreign nationals contributing to political campaigns and then replace it with a ban on “foreign-influenced corporations,” which the bill defines as “a for-profit corporation or limited liability company in which a single foreign investor has 1 percent or more of the company's ownership interests, or multiple foreign investors collectively have 5 percent or more of the company's ownership interests.” Seattle passed similar legislation that put Amazon out of the contributions game, but the big money always finds a way around it. 

HB 1883: If this law passes, employers can claim a business and occupation tax break for jury duty equal to 100% of the relevant employee’s salary for the length of their duty up to 21 days of pay. Certainly an improvement over the $10 a day we currently offer people. 


HB 2036: As Ashley reported, last year Democrats killed a bill to legalize alcohol in strip clubs, a measure that would make clubs safer and help dancers thrive. If that idea sounds counterintuitive to you, then read up. In any event, this is more or less the same bill but without the booze to help pay for the protections and create a safer social environment : ( This version of the legislation would restrict the fees that club owners could charge dancers, add safety protocols, and clean up some dumb restrictions on performers. Seattle Sen. Rebecca Saldaña will carry SB 6105 through the Senate. That version is slightly different from the House bill but it weedsy ways that are too boring to discuss.

HB 1893/SB 5777: Rep. Beth Doglio and Sen. Karen Keiser want to give striking workers unemployment benefits, which will help them outlast companies during strikes and keep unions from having to pay so much in strike assistance. The sponsors have 44 Dems co-sponsoring the House bill, which is some pretty serious support. California passed a similar bill last year, but Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed it, citing cost. 

HB 1889: Rep. Walen wants to allow people to obtain professional permits and certifications regardless of immigration status, which sounds like something we should have done a long time ago. 

HB 1897/SB 5809: If you’re looking for a little list of Democrats who want to speed along the demise of the public education system, then look no further than the lawmakers sponsoring this bill to dump more money into charter schools. They argue that public schools disproportionately fail students of color, and so the answer is to weaken public schools by giving more money to charters. Okay!  


HB 2194: Though pot has been legal in Washington for more than a decade, it’s still illegal to grow the plant at home. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Shelley Kloba, would legalize it. 

HB 2054/SB 6220: The temperance caucus strikes again, and this time they want to place limits on dabs. What kind of limits? With this legislation, Democratic Rep. Lauren Davis and Democratic Sen. Salomon want to ban cannabis products with “a THC concentration greater than 35 percent” for those under 25, ask the Department of Health to draw up some “optional” training materials for budtenders re: the “the health and safety impacts of high THC cannabis products,” and get a UW department to study and then implement interventions doctors can use on patients “at risk for developing serious complications due to cannabis consumption.”


HB 1902/SB 6004: Rep. Liz Berry and Sen. Marko Liias continue their crusades against death machines with these companion bills, which would require a person to obtain a permit before purchasing a gun. To obtain the permit, the gun-nut will need to take a training course. 

HB 1903: If you spend a couple hours per week reading police reports like I do, then you’ll learn that people use stolen guns to commit crimes all the time. Exact numbers are hard to come by because we don’t make people report stolen guns, and becuase NRA prevented the govermment from studying guns for years. But this bill from Rep. Berry would make people report stolen guns 24 hours after they realize they’re gone or else face fines. Republicans hate gun bills, and gun safety stuff is pretty popular statewide, so Dems should run as many gun safety bills as possible to keep the GOP on its back foot. 

HB 2054: This cool bill from Rep. Farivar would allow gun dealers to sell only one gun per customer per month, rather than infinite guns whenever the suburban and exurban scardycats worry the Dems will take their guns away. 


HB 1868: The right already threw out its back trying to get mad at Rep. Amy Walen’s bill to ban new gas-powered and diesel-powered lawn equipment (blowers and mowers) while lifting the sales tax on electric (and more expensive) versions of those machines to help ease the transition. As everyone knows, the real reason to ban gas-powered lawn equipment is because they’re all too fucking loud

HB 2232/SB 6052: This legislation sets up a commission to look into the pricing schemes cooked up by fossil fuel companies. The idea is to see just how much these fucks are gouging us. They’re calling this one the “Hold Oil Companies Accountable” bill, and it more or less serves as Governor Jay Inslee’s answer to oil companies who blamed the new cap-and-trade law for forcing them to protect their profits by raising gasoline prices. 

HB 2049/SB 6005: Right now, companies wrap products in insane packaging and then force us to pay extra to recycle it. This legislation, common in Europe and elsewhere, would flip the script and make the companies pay to recycle their weird containers. 

HB 2070/SB 5990: The environmental justice community is throwing its weight behind this bill to include pollutants in environmental reviews that haven’t been included before, block new permits for factories that produce those pollutants, and get current polluters to reduce their pollution, among other things. We know these polluters steal five years of life on average from people who live near them, and those people tend to be Black and brown, so passing these protections is a matter of life and death and equitiy and justice. 


HB 1960/SB 5882: This carry-over from last year would essentially raise the amount of money states can send schools by increasing the amount allocated for certain kinds of staff. 

HB 2125: Right now, the state doesn’t count academic service work performed by adjunct teachers and other part-time staff toward benefit eligibility, so we’re running into situations where the people who actually make our community and technical colleges run don’t get health insurance, paid sick leave, retirement benefits, etc. This bill from Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self would include service (e.g. serving on hiring committees, doing department work) in that tally so that people can receive the benefits they rightfully earned.

This is a living list. If I missed a bill you think I should have flagged, shoot me an email and I'll add it to the tracker when I get a second.