What Happened in the 2023 Washington Legislative Session

Capitol in Olympia

The 105-day 2023 legislative session began on Jan. 9 and adjourned sine die on April 23. Legislators passed a two-year, $69.2 billion state operating budget providing funding increases for K-12 schools, with an emphasis on special education and programs to support affordable housing, as well as a $13.5 billion biennial transportation budget that supports improvements to the Washington State Ferry System, increases bicycle and pedestrian access to schools, and funds major highway construction projects statewide.

One of the WSBA’s main priorities during each legislative session is to support legislative proposals initiated by WSBA Sections and approved by the Board of Governors. This year’s request legislation, Senate Bill (SB) 5004, passed both chambers unanimously and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee. Originating from the Corporate Act Revision Committee of the Business Law Section, SB 5004 aims to modernize and clarify portions of Washington’s Business Corporations Act (WBCA) by amending chapters of the WBCA regarding holding company reorganization transactions, stock splits, and other provisions.

In addition to Bar-request legislation, the WSBA Legislative Affairs team referred and tracked nearly 500 bills for WSBA Sections through the end of session. Key bills involving WSBA Section action and collaborationinclude:

  • Substitute House Bill 1088: Concerning the uniform family law arbitration act. This bill adopts the Uniform Law Commission’s Uniform Family Law Arbitration Act to create a statutory scheme for the arbitration of family law disputes. The bill was supported by the Family Law Section and the Dispute Resolution Section and signed into law by Inslee.
  • Substitute Senate Bill 5077: Concerning the uniform commercial code. This bill amends general provisions and definitions that apply throughout the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC); amends articles of the UCC governing sales, leases, negotiable instruments, fund transfers, letters of credit, documents of title, investment securities, and secured transactions; establishes a new article in the UCC governing controllable electronic records; and provides an adjustment date on or after which certain transactions must conform to the requirements of the act to remain valid, enforceable, or perfected. The bill was supported by the Business Law Section and is expected to be signed into law by Inslee.
  • Second Substitute Senate Bill 5112: Updating processes related to voter registration. This bill requires that the Department of Licensing make voter registration, signing up to register, or voter registration updates automatic for enhanced driver’s license and enhanced identicard applicants unless subsequently declined in writing; modifies procedures and timelines related to challenges to a voter’s eligibility; exempts date of birth, rather than year of birth, in voter registration files from public disclosure requirements; and sets penalties for failure to transmit voter registration information automatically and for intentional registration of ineligible persons. This legislation was supported by the Civil Rights Law Section and is expected to be signed into law by Inslee.

The next legislative session will begin in January 2024 and is scheduled for 60 days. During the interim and the upcoming session, the WSBA will continue to monitor and take action on legislation significant to the practice of law and administration of justice.