The bills that are dead and still alive in Washington’s 2024 legislative session

By Grace Deng, Laurel Demkovich and Jerry Cornfield

Washington State Standard

As this year’s action in Olympia moves deeper into its second half, some bills have expired as others chug along.

In the Washington Legislature, Tuesday, Feb. 13 marked an important deadline when most bills had to pass out of the chamber where they originated — either the House or Senate — to remain in play and possibly end up signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Below, is a roundup of some of the notable legislation we’ve been tracking that is still on the move or that has lapsed for the year. The 60-day session ends March 7.

Stayin’ alive

Bills still in play, as of Feb. 14:

• Labor

The House approved a bill to provide unemployment insurance benefits to workers who are on strike. Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Des Moines, who chairs the Labor and Commerce Committee was optimistic about the bill’s odds of making it to the Senate floor.

A bill to improve workplace standards in strip clubs passed the Senate and is making its way through the House. House Speaker Laurie Jinkins said she’d support bringing it to a floor vote without provisions in the Senate bill that clear the way for liquor sales in strip clubs.

Legislation also squeezed through the Senate that identifies which legislative staff would be eligible to unionize and which topics could, and could not be, collectively bargained. The bill passed 27-22 with five Republicans joining 22 Democrats to get it through. As drafted, it would provide bargaining rights to a broader group of legislative staff than any other state.

• Housing

A bill to cap how much landlords can raise rent each year at 7% passed out of the House and is now pending in the Senate. The legislation would also restrict rent late fees.

House Bill 2160, which would require most large cities in Washington to allow denser housing near transit stops, passed the state House of Representatives 56-40 on Tuesday.

• Guns

Democratic lawmakers’ pursuit of tougher gun laws continues on several fronts — mostly against Republican opposition.

A Senate bill to ban open carrying of firearms in parks, bus stations, libraries, zoos, aquariums and local government buildings cleared the Senate on a party-line 29-20 vote. And the House passed two measures. One requires gun owners to report the loss or theft of a firearm to law enforcement within 24 hours of discovering their weapon is gone. The other imposes new rules on firearm dealers concerning security and surveillance systems, and requirements that employees be at least 21 years old.

• Education

Efforts to curb youth overdoses and addiction are making their way through the Legislature. A bill requiring all public, charter and tribal schools in the state to stock medication that can reverse opioid overdoses has cleared the Senate and is awaiting action in the House.

Meanwhile, the House is considering a Senate bill that passed unanimously requiring schools to have bleeding control kits for traumatic injuries, such as wounds from a shooting.

Another House bill would set a Sept. 1 deadline to implement a K-12 curriculum in partnership with tribes on Indigenous history and culture. It passed the House unanimously.

• Holidays

House Bill 2209 would make Lunar New Year a holiday recognized by the Legislature. An effort to make Lunar New Year a paid state-recognized holiday failed last year. This year’s bill does not make Lunar New Year a legal holiday. It passed the House 96-0.

Goodbye for now

It’s all but certain these bills have failed for this year.

• Education

The dream of free higher education for Washington students has died — for now. The ‘13 Year Free’ program would have offered up to two years of tuition-free community and technical college to all students, regardless of household income.

It was inspired by the success of free-tuition programs like Seattle Promise and Renton Promise, which significantly increased enrollment at participating colleges. The bill passed a House education committee but failed to get a vote in Appropriations.

Free school meals made a comeback this session — and then died before making it to a floor vote.

Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, has spearheaded this effort for a while and said it came down to cost: the state underestimated how much its current free school meals program costs by about $30 million. Free school meals for all would cost $115 million a year. The budget will cover the shortfall this year, Riccelli said.

“I really don’t think you can put a price on feeding kids,” he said. Riccelli plans to bring meal expansion legislation back next year, as long as he’s still “alive and kicking.”

• Oil companies

Gov. Jay Inslee won’t be getting one of his priority policies passed in his final year in office. That’s because legislation he requested that would make oil companies reveal more about their gasoline prices and profits got parked in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Critics of the bill questioned its cost and whether the state could keep sensitive corporate data safe from hackers.

• Guns

A controversial bill to require a person to obtain a permit to buy a firearm received hearings in the House and Senate but did not advance out of any committee. As proposed, an individual would have needed to complete a firearms safety training program certified by the Washington State Patrol before they could get their gun purchase permit.

• Drunken driving

Efforts to lower the legal limit for driving drunk in Washington failed in both chambers. Proposed legislation sought to reduce the maximum allowable blood alcohol concentration for drivers from 0.08% to 0.05%. Supporters hoped to have Washington state join Utah with the toughest standard in the nation.

• Prisons

A bill backed by a formerly incarcerated lawmaker, Rep. Tarra Simmons, D-Kitsap, to allow prisoners to vote didn’t even make it out of its first committee, despite strong support from criminal justice advocates and prisoners. Republicans called the legislation dangerous.

Likewise, a bill known as the “Connecting Families Act” to make phone calls free for prisoners did not make it out of committee.

• Wolves

A proposal to give ranchers greater leeway to kill wolves that threaten or attack livestock on their property appears chewed up for the year and unlikely to advance. The legislation would have set up a pilot program to allow owners of animals like cattle and sheep to kill wolves the first time the animals return to their property following an attack.

• Cannabis

A few hardy Washington lawmakers made another run at allowing adults to grow cannabis plants at home without breaking the law. They crafted legislation to permit an individual to cultivate up to four plants at home legally. As is, only medical cannabis patients can grow at home without risk of ticket or arrest.

“This is a long time coming,” said Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Bothell, the bill’s prime sponsor. “It really does emphasize that it is for personal use only. Many other states have done it. It is time for us to do it.”

The House Regulated Substances and Gaming Committee approved House Bill 2194 but it got snuffed out by the chamber’s appropriations committee.

• Child care

House Bill 2243, which would have allowed the Department of Natural Resources to create a new land trust to fund grants for child care, did not make it through this year. Rep. Kristine Reeves, D-Federal Way, said she would likely continue working on the idea in future sessions.

• Standard time

Washington will not “ditch the switch” anytime soon. A bill that would have put Washington on permanent standard time did not make the cut this session.

By Grace Deng, Laurel Demkovich and Jerry Cornfield write for the Washington State Standard (, an independent, nonprofit news organization that produces original reporting on policy and politics.