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Nearly 96% of bills passed in 2024 received some level of bipartisan support


(The Center Square) – While there was some partisan rancor on hot-button issues during this year’s short 60-day legislative session, recent data indicates Washington state lawmakers from both major parties can work together to pass bills under certain circumstances.

Of the 381 bills sent to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk this session, 365 – or nearly 96% – received at least one “yes” vote from both parties, according to analysis from nonpartisan legislative staff.

“Washingtonians expect us to work together and we do. They are understandably surprised to learn how closely we collaborate because, so often, the rhetoric doesn’t match reality. But the numbers don’t lie,” Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig said in a news release. “This is further proof that we are, in fact, nothing like the other Washington.”

According to the data:

91.34% (348 of 381) of bills garnered six or more Republican votes;

89.24% (340 of 381) of bills received 10 or more Republican votes;80.84% (308 of 381) of bills earned 31 or more Republican votes.

“While we vote together on many bills, there are a few crucial issues where the stark differences between the parties are clear,” said Billig, who will not be seeking re-election. “Our Democratic majorities vote our values – whether our Republican colleagues join us or not – on issues important to Washingtonians such as gun safety, reproductive freedom and climate change.”

Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, partially agreed with Billig’s assessment.

“It’s true, there is a lot of bipartisanship,” he said.

Wilcox, who also is not running for re-election, went on to provide some context for that assessment.

“Unfortunately, the most important bills – the small number of controversial bills – don’t get supported by the other side,” he observed.

One of those controversial bills is Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1589 intended to speed up Puget Sound Energy’s transition away from natural gas, which passed the Legislature with only Democratic support.

Inslee signed the bill into law on Friday.

Wilcox noted that bipartisan efforts may pay off more in legislative bodies that are evenly divided or close to evenly divided, as opposed to “out of balance” legislative bodies.

Democrats control the Washington State Legislature by a 58-40 margin in the House of Representatives and 29-20 margin in the Senate.

Billig noted some friction between lawmakers from different parties is to be expected during the session, but that doesn’t preclude working together when possible.

“But our Legislature has shown that we can disagree without being disagreeable, that we can find areas of agreement, and that government can work as intended even when there are differences of opinion,” he said.

In 2023, nearly 95.9% of bills received at least one “yes” vote from both major parties. That figure was 94.5% in 2022 and 92.8% in 2021.