2022 legislative session reaches its halfway point

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February 8, 2022

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The Washington State Legislature’s mostly virtual session is progressing smoothly. My colleagues and I have now completed 29 days of the 60-day session, so we are about halfway through the full process. During the middle days of session, senators spend the majority of time, either in the full Senate chambers or remotely, considering bills already approved from the various committees. At this stage in the process, if bills have not been approved by their committees, they are likely done for the year. Also, since this is the second year of the biennium (the two-year period connected to budgets and bills), legislation will expire from consideration if it doesn’t advance. Bills that do not advance this session will need to be reintroduced in the following biennium, which will be represented by a “new” Legislature following the November election.

Capitol and Sundial at sunset

The popular sundial is in view as the sun sets over the state Capitol in Olympia.

Senate and House focused on "floor" voting

The Senate has spent several days “on the floor,” meaning we are either at our desks in the Senate Chamber, or taking part remotely, to debate and vote on bills placed on the voting calendars by the Senate Rules Committee. The Rules Committee acts as a final gatekeeper after committee approvals and before votes by the full Senate. During this phase of the lawmaking process, my colleagues and I will begin our work on the Senate floor every morning, take a short lunch break, and continue with debates and votes throughout the afternoon. The Republicans and Democrats will take breaks for caucus meetings via Zoom or Teams throughout the day to discuss bills and amendments. Sometimes, the Senate takes a dinner break before returning for more discussion and votes into the evening hours. The evening sessions can go very late and sometimes all the way into the following day.

Senate chambers

The Senate Chamber has remained mostly empty as the Legislature continued to be in a hybrid format this session, with committee meetings being held remotely and a limited number of senators allowed on the Senate floor during floor sessions.

Senate "floor cutoff" quickly approaching

The entire legislative session is based on strict “cutoff” dates required for bills to advance further in the process. In a short 60-day session, those dates occur more frequently. February 15 is the “floor cutoff,” the deadline for the Senate to pass bills that were introduced in our chamber, except for bills necessary to implement the operating, capital or transportation budgets. Once the floor cutoff has passed, my Senate colleagues and I will return to committee meetings to focus on bills approved by the House of Representatives. The House will likewise consider Senate-approved legislation in its committees.    

Capitol rotunda from above

An elevated view of the state Capitol rotunda, looking down from inside the dome.

Use of technology during session

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, and Skype 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 again this session to ensure smooth operations. My office has three staff members plus a communications officer who assist me while working remotely. We communicate regularly by phone, email, and video conference. Throughout this session, senators have participated “remotely” for committee and constituent meetings, and most senators participate remotely in floor debates, as only a limited number of senators are allowed on the floor at the same time. While this isn’t an ideal process, it has mostly worked smoothly. Please continue to view TVW.org to follow committee hearings and floor debates. If you have questions about the legislative process or the status of individual bills, the Legislative Information Center is an excellent resource.

Update on my prime-sponsored bills

  • Senate Bill 5487 (School Incentives): This is my school district consolidation incentives bill. If school districts with fewer than 1,000 students choose to join forces with a neighboring district, their combined school district would be eligible for expanded building renovation funds over a 10-year period. Any decision to merge districts (essentially administrative functions, not necessarily school buildings) would be totally voluntary, after significant public discussion and community votes. The bill is aimed at reducing front-office expenses in small districts and assisting with school-building modernizations. SB 5487 has been approved by both the Senate’s Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee and the Ways and Means Committee. For more information, read this article, click here, or watch the committee hearing.
  • Senate Bill 5868 (Workforce Housing): This bill would allow counties to utilize their existing.09 sales tax dollars for the purposes of workforce housing infrastructure or facilities. It is supported by the city of Leavenworth, Chelan County, Chelan Valley Housing Trust, Upper Valley MEND, Wenatchee Valley Chamber, TwispWorks, Washington Hospitality Association, and others. SB 5868 was approved by the Senate Housing and Local Government Committee and then passed by the Rules Committee. It is now eligible for a full Senate vote. To learn more about this bill, read this article or watch the committee hearing.
  • Senate Bill 5603 (Highway 2 Study): This bill proposes a comprehensive study along the Highway 2 corridor to identify safety and traffic flow improvements near Leavenworth, Sultan, and Monroe. This bill is backed by the cities of Leavenworth, Sultan, Gold Bar, and Monroe. It is also supported by the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County and others. WSDOT has expressed some concerns with the bill’s ambitious scope and study timeline. Following discussions with my Transportation Committee colleagues, this study will not advance separately as a bill but could be included as a section of the supplemental transportation budget passed this year. I anticipated this as a possibility but wanted the bill to be introduced separately to highlight the importance of Highway 2 safety and traffic flow to the committee. To learn more about this bill, read this article or watch the committee hearing.

Listen to my recent local radio interviews

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

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



Brad Hawkins


State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District

Website: senatorbradhawkins.org

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