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Record-Long Session Produced Surprisingly Few New Laws

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Governor Jay Inslee

It was a record-long legislative session in Washington. But the number of bills that actually became law was quite few – comparatively.

Governor Jay Inslee signed 365 bills into law this year. That’s a passage rate of less than 16 percent.

Split control of the Washington legislature may explain why so many ideas failed to make it through the legislative sausage-making process.

Back in 2009, when Democrats controlled both chambers, then-Governor Chris Gregoire signed nearly 600 measures into law.

After that, the Great Recession took hold and the numbers began to drop. The closest comparable year to this year was 1991.

The first measure Inslee signed this year was a supplemental budget back in February. His last were the bills necessary to implement a 16-year, $16 billion gas tax package.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."