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The Washington State Legislature is the
state legislature A state legislature is a Legislature, legislative branch or body of a State (country subdivision), political subdivision in a Federalism, federal system. Two federations literally use the term "state legislature": * The legislative branches of e ...
of the
U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state ...
of
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state) Washington (), officially the State of Washington, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. ...
. It is a
bicameral Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) ...
body, composed of the
lower Lower may refer to: *Lower (surname)Lower is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: * Arthur R. M. Lower (1889–1988) Canadian historian * Britt Lower (born 1985), American actress * Cyrus B. Lower (1843–1924), American Civil War ...
Washington House of Representatives The Washington House of Representatives is the lower house of the Washington State Legislature, and along with the Washington State Senate makes up the State legislature (United States), legislature of the U.S. state of Washington (U.S. state), ...
, composed of 98 Representatives, and the upper
Washington State Senate The Washington State Senate is the upper house of the Washington State Legislature. The body consists of 49 members, each representing a district with a population of nearly 160,000. The State Senate meets at the Washington State Capitol, Legis ...

Washington State Senate
, with 49 Senators plus the
Lieutenant Governor A lieutenant governor, lieutenant-governor, or vice governor is a high officer of state, whose precise role and rank vary by jurisdiction. Often a lieutenant governor is the deputy, or lieutenant A lieutenant ( or abbreviated Lt., Lt, LT, L ...
acting as president. The state is divided into 49 legislative districts, each of which elect one senator and two representatives. The State Legislature meets in the Legislative Building at the
Washington State Capitol The Washington State Capitol or ''Legislative Building'' in Olympia is the home of the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its ...

Washington State Capitol
in Olympia. As of January 2021, Democrats control both houses of the Washington State Legislature. Democrats hold a 57-41 majority in the House of Representatives and a 28-21 majority in the Senate (with one Democratic senator caucusing with the 20 Republicans).


History

The Washington State Legislature traces its ancestry to the creation of the
Washington Territory The Territory of Washington was an organized incorporated territory of the United States and the founding of the United States: Kingdom of Great Britain, British claims are indicated in red and pink, while Spanish claims are in orange and yello ...
in 1853, following successful arguments from settlers north of the
Columbia River The Columbia River (Upper Chinook Upper Chinook, endonym Kiksht, also known as Columbia Chinook, and Wasco-Wishram after its last surviving dialect, is a recently extinct language of the US Pacific Northwest. It had 69 speakers in 1990, of w ...

Columbia River
to the U.S. federal government to legally separate from the
Oregon Territory The Territory of Oregon was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 14, 1848, until February 14, 1859, when the southwestern portion of the territory was admitted to the United States, Union as the Orego ...
. The Washington Territorial Assembly, as the newly created area's bicameral legislature, convened the following year. The legislature represented settlers from the
Strait of Juan de Fuca The Strait of Juan de Fuca (officially named Juan de Fuca Strait in Canada) is a body of water about long that is the Salish Sea , image = PNW-straits.jpg , alt = , caption = The Salish Sea, showing t ...
to modern
Montana Montana () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Montana
.


The Female Voting Franchise

From nearly the start of the territory, arguments over giving women the right to vote dogged legislative proceedings. While some legislators carried genuine concerns over women deserving the right to vote, most legislators pragmatically believed that giving women suffrage would entice more
Eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current Chinese airline based in Shanghai *Eastern Air, former name of Zambia Skyways *Eastern Air Lines, a defunct American airline that operated from 1926 to 1991 *Eastern Air Lin ...
women to immigrate to the remote and sparsely populated territory. In 1854, only six years after the
Seneca Falls Convention The Seneca Falls Convention was the first women's rights Women's rights are the and s claimed for and s worldwide. They formed the basis for the women's rights movement in the 19th century and the s during the 20th and 21st centurie ...
, the issue was brought to a vote by the legislature. Women's suffrage was defeated in a tied vote of 9 to 9 (an absolute majority, or 10 votes, was needed to pass laws). This was due to one legislator voting against this bill because he had an American Indian wife and only white women would have been able to vote. A decade later, the
Wyoming Legislature The Wyoming State Legislature is the legislative branch A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is th ...
would become the first body in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
to grant women's suffrage in 1869. The issue over female suffrage did not diminish. In 1871
Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony
and Thurston County Representative
Daniel Bigelow Daniel Bigelow (24 March 1824 – 15 September 1905) was a pioneer Pioneer commonly refers to a settler who migrates to previously uninhabited or sparsely inhabited land. In the United States pioneer commonly refers to an American pioneer, a perso ...
addressed the legislature on the issue. In 1883, the issue returned to the floor, this time with the Territorial Assembly successfully passing universal suffrage for women. It quickly became one of the most liberal voting laws in the nation, giving female
African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...
voters the voting franchise for the first time in the United States. However, in 1887, the territorial
Washington Supreme Court The Washington Supreme Court is the highest court in the judiciary of the U.S. state of Washington (state), Washington. The court is composed of a chief justice and eight associate justices. Members of the court are elected to six-year terms. ...
ruled the 1883 universal suffrage act as unconstitutional in '' Harland v. Washington''. Another attempt by the legislature to regrant universal female suffrage was again overturned in 1888. After two failed voter referendums in 1889 and 1898, the now-Washington State Legislature approved full female voting rights in 1910.


Statehood

With more than two decades of pressure on federal authorities to authorize statehood, on February 22, 1889, the U.S. Congress passed the Enabling Act of 1889, Enabling Act, signed into law by outgoing Grover Cleveland, President Grover Cleveland, authorizing the territories of
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state) Washington (), officially the State of Washington, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. ...
, North Dakota, South Dakota, and
Montana Montana () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Montana
to form state governments. The Territorial Assembly set out to convene a constitutional convention to write a Washington State Constitution, state constitution. Following its successful passage by the legislature, Washington voters approved the new document on October 1. On November 11, 1889, Benjamin Harrison, President Benjamin Harrison authorized Washington to become the List of U.S. states by date of statehood, 42nd state of United States. It was the last West Coast of the United States, West Coast state of the Continental U.S. to achieve statehood. The modern Washington State Legislature was created.


Meetings

The bicameral body is composed of legislators, beginning the legislative session annually on the second Monday in January. In odd-numbered years, when the state budget is debated upon, the State Legislature meets for 105 days, and in even-numbered years for 60 days. The Governor of Washington, if necessary, can call legislators in for a special session for a 30-day period at any time in the year. Legislators also can call themselves into special session by a two-thirds vote by both the House of Representatives and the State Senate.


Television coverage

Debates within both the House and Senate, as well as committee meetings and other special events within or relating to the legislature are broadcast throughout Washington on TVW (Washington), TVW, the state public affairs network. Debates can also be found on the web at TVW.org.


Vacancies

Unlike some state legislatures, the Washington State Legislature does not hold special elections midyear if a seat becomes vacant between regular elections. Instead, the county council or board of county Commissioner, commissioners for the county or counties where the vacant district is located are given the responsibility of choosing the successor. The state central committee of the political party that last held the seat must submit a list of up to three candidates to the board, who must make the final selection within 60 days of the vacancy. A special election is then held alongside November general elections.


See also

*
Washington State Capitol The Washington State Capitol or ''Legislative Building'' in Olympia is the home of the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its ...

Washington State Capitol
*
Washington House of Representatives The Washington House of Representatives is the lower house of the Washington State Legislature, and along with the Washington State Senate makes up the State legislature (United States), legislature of the U.S. state of Washington (U.S. state), ...
*
Washington State Senate The Washington State Senate is the upper house of the Washington State Legislature. The body consists of 49 members, each representing a district with a population of nearly 160,000. The State Senate meets at the Washington State Capitol, Legis ...

Washington State Senate
* List of Washington state legislatures


Further reading

* Don Brazier
''History of the Washington Legislature, 1854-1963.''
Olympia, WA: Washington State Senate, 2000.


References


External links


Washington State Legislature
{{Authority control Washington State Legislature, Government of Washington (state) Bicameral legislatures