Virtual legislative session moving forward

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February 2, 2021

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Washington State Legislature’s first-ever remote session is progressing surprisingly smoothly. My colleagues and I have now completed 22 days of the 105-day session. During these early days of session, we spend the majority of time in committee meetings conducting public hearings on bills introduced in the Senate. February 15 is the final day for our policy committees to pass Senate bills, and February 22 is the deadline for the Senate fiscal committees to approve Senate bills.

Senate and House transition to "floor" voting

Beginning February 23, the Senate and House will spend 15 days “on the floor,” which usually means at our desks in the chamber debating and voting on bills that were approved by committees and placed on the voting calendar by the Senate Rules Committee, which acts as a final gatekeeper before votes by the full Senate. The House and Senate floor cutoff date is March 9. Due to the pandemic, this year’s Senate floor activities will take place remotely through video conferencing. The state has implemented an online voting system for members to cast their votes while the video conference sessions occur. During this next phase of the lawmaking process, my colleagues and I will begin our work every morning, take a short lunch break, and continue with debates and votes throughout the afternoon. Typically, the Republicans and Democrats will break into one or more separate caucus meetings each day to discuss proposals and possible amendments on bills eligible for a vote. Sometimes, the Senate takes a dinner break before returning for more discussion and votes into the evening hours. The caucus meetings for this year also take place via video conference.

Capitol dome and sundial in snow

The sunset glow shines on the state Capitol last session following a light snowfall.

Use of technology for session activities

The COVID pandemic has greatly increased the use of video discussions, conference calls, and other technology. Many people believe this increased familiarity with online platforms such as Zoom, Teams, Skype, and FaceTime will usher in a new era of virtual activities, such as telemedicine, remote working, and online education. The Legislature is utilizing a variety of technology to ensure smooth operations during the virtual session – the first ever in our state. My office has three staff members plus a communications officer who assist me while they themselves work remotely. We communicate regularly by phone, email, and video conference. During Senate floor debates, I work from three screens to conduct my business efficiently. One of my screens operates video conferencing in the Senate chambers. The second screen provides me the opportunity to review bills and amendments. My third screen displays the online and real-time voting system of senators. Like any new system, it has taken a little while to learn, which may result in fewer bills being considered. However, I believe the online session, video testimony, and remote voting are actually working quite well.

Senate chamber from rear

The Washington State Senate is normally a bustling chamber at this stage of the legislative session. This year, however, the seats remain nearly empty while debate occurs remotely through video conferencing and online voting.

Listen to my recent local radio interviews 

Each week, I call our local radio stations to participate in live interviews about the latest happenings in the legislative session. If you'd like to hear my most recent interviews, click on these links for KOHO and KOZI . 

Please contact me with questions or concerns

While the Capitol building in Olympia remains mostly empty, please know that legislators and their office staff continue to work remotely. My staff and I are ready to assist you throughout the day. If you have questions or comments about state government or the legislative session, please contact me anytime.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state senator.



Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District


107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000