Washington Legislative Recap: 2021 Session Summary for Legal Professionals

The Washington Capitol in Olympia

On April 25, the Washington State Legislature closed its unprecedented 2021 Regular Session, capping 105 days in Olympia that for the first time was also conducted nearly entirely virtually. Despite a few technical glitches and Zoom missteps, that have become commonplace during pandemic life, the session went surprisingly smoothly and WSBA Legislative Affairs was busy throughout, monitoring hundreds of bills that are of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals.

On the last day of session, the state Senate delivered the 2021-23 budget to Gov. Jay Inslee for signature, appropriating $58.9 billion in what Senate budget lead Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, told the The Spokesman Review was “the most complicated budget that I’ve been a part of.”

This session, WSBA Legislative Affairs referred 712 bills to WSBA sections, tracked 489 bills for sections, and helped coordinate section action on 11 bills.

As is usually the case every year, the WSBA helped coordinate a number bills that were initiated by sections and approved by the Board of Governors. Both of this year’s WSBA request bills, which were brought forward by the Business Law Section, passed overwhelmingly in both chambers and have been signed into law.

  • SB 5034, from the Nonprofit Corporations Committee of the Business Law Section, is a substantial overhaul of the Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act and the result of a years-long effort and extensive stakeholder input from the Senate Law and Justice Committee and many others. The act clarifies the ways in which a Washington nonprofit corporation must conduct its affairs. It further offers default standards under which a corporation may modify its articles and bylaws and provides procedures that must be followed when a nonprofit corporation engages in a fundamental transaction such as a merger, an amendment of its articles of incorporation, or dissolution.
  • SB 5005, from the Corporate Act Revisions Committee of the Business Law Section, provides new provisions for notices by electronic transmissions to shareholders and directors.

A number of other WSBA sections took action on proposed legislation, which included:

  • HB 1042 (Rep. Thai): Revising the international application of the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act to protect families from facing the death penalty in certain foreign jurisdictions on the basis of religious beliefs, political beliefs, or sexual orientation (Family Law: support). Signed into law and became effective April 14.
  • HB 1078 (Rep. Simmons): Restoring voter eligibility for all persons convicted of a felony offense who are not in total confinement under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections (Civil Rights Law: support). Signed into law and becomes effective Jan. 1, 2022.
  • HB 1090 (Rep. Ortiz-Self): Concerning private, for-profit detention facilities (Civil Rights Law: support). Signed into law and became effective April 14.
  • HB 1171 (Rep. Walen): Amending child support income withholding provisions to comply with federal child support program requirements (Family Law: support). Signed into law and becomes effective July 25.
  • HB 1197 (Rep. Riccelli): Concerning health care decisions made by a designated person (Elder Law: oppose). Passed House but did not pass Senate Rules Committee.
  • HB 1202 (Rep. Thai): Addressing meaningful civil remedies for persons injured as a result of police misconduct, including by allowing for an award of attorney fees in addition to damages and injunctive declaratory relief (Civil Rights Law: support). Passed committee but did not receive floor vote.
  • SB 5225 (Sen. Hunt): Concerning direct appeals to the court of appeals of cases brought under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Land Use Petition Act (Administrative Law: support). Passed both chambers and awaiting governor’s signature.
  • SB 5355 (Sen. Conway): Establishing wage liens (Creditor Debtor Rights: concerns). Signed into law and becomes effective Jan. 1, 2022.
  • SB 5408 (Sen. Stanford): Concerning the homestead exemption (Creditor Debtor Rights: concerns). Passed both chambers and awaiting governor’s signature.