State lawmakers prefile hundreds of bills before start of legislative session

State lawmakers have been cautioning constituents not to expect a lot of new bills in the next legislative session. But not all of the state’s 98 representatives and 49 senators seem to agree. More than 350 bills have already been prefiled and the start of the session is still more than a week away.

While bills related to repealing the capital gains tax, police reforms, budget and spending, and education are sure to grab the spotlight, there are other bills from Southwest Washington’s lawmakers worth mentioning.

All three legislators from the 17th District prefiled bills. Now in the second year of his term, Rep. Kevin Waters hopes to create an “adopt a fish barrier” program with House Bill 2045. According to the bill, fish barriers can impede salmon and steelhead recovery but the state has limited financial resources to address the issue.

The program would allow individuals and businesses to contribute donations which would be used to remove fish barriers on lands owned by local governments. Donors would be acknowledged on public signs.

Bills from Sen. Lynda Wilson would address transparency in rule-making, create a statewide drug overdose and prevention campaign, and add another judge to Clark County Superior Court. Senate Bill 5911 would enhance cancer research funding by dedicating 1 percent of state sales tax collections to the Andy Hill cancer research endowment fund.

“… Cancer continues to be the leading cause of death in Washington,” the bill states. “Dedicated funding for cancer research is essential for the development of lifesaving innovations that detect, treat, and prevent cancer.”

If passed, the bill would go into effect Oct. 1, which is cancer awareness month.

Among the eight bills prefiled by Rep. Stephanie McClintock from the 18th District is House Bill 2035. The bill would change the number of hours some minors can work during the school year. If passed, the bill would allow 16- and 17-year-old minors to work the same number of hours during the school year as allowed during vacations and holidays if they are enrolled in a college program or career and technical education program.

Rep. Peter Abbarno from the 20th District prefiled five bills. Among them is House Bill 1977 which would designate Tenino sandstone as the state rock.

“There are so many buildings and monuments in the state of Washington that were built and designed with Tenino sandstone,” Abbarno said in a press release. “You can’t visit the Capitol without seeing Tenino sandstone or the craftsmanship of the Tenino Stone Carvers Guild.”

Abbarno said it is only fitting that Tenino sandstone be named as Washington’s “state stone.”

During the 2023 session, Abbarno secured $160,000 in funding for a workshop and classroom near the Tenino quarry to help train future stone carvers.

Sen. John Braun, also from the 20th District, prefiled four bills and includes Senate Bill 5851 which would require public middle, junior and high schools to designate April as international genocide prevention and awareness month. If passed, schools would need to “conduct or promote age-appropriate educational activities that provide instruction, awareness, and understanding of the Holocaust and genocide education to all students.”

These activities could include classroom instruction, guest speaker presentations, school assemblies or other developmentally appropriate activities, the bill reads.

To see the most recent and complete list of prefiled bills, go to

— Shari Phiel

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