Washington Legislative Update - January 2021

Prepared by Brandon Anderson, SPEEA Legislative Director

Week 1 of the remote 2021 legislative session

The Washington State Legislature began the 2021 legislative session on Monday, Jan. 11. Operating on a bicameral cycle, the state legislature convenes every year in early January
to carry out its duties. Every odd-numbered year, the legislature meets for 105 days to adopt
a 2-year operating budget, a transportation budget, and a capital (state construction) budget. During even-numbered years, the legislature meets for a short 60-day session, where legislators implement modifications to the three budgets. Policy related proposals are introduced and
passed during both odd and even-numbered years.

Highlights for the 2021 session:

Voters set the agenda — Washington voters gave Democrats continued control of the state House of Representatives (57-41), Senate (29-20), and the Governor’s office. Washington voters broke another state record, electing six Black women, four newly elected, to serve as state legislators in 2021.

Remote session limits capacity — This year’s legislative session will be conducted (mostly) remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. House Democratic leadership has asked their caucus to reduce the number of bills each representative introduces in this session. Senate Democrats have also requested their caucus to be mindful of limited capacity but have not set limits.

Federal Pandemic Relief — As a result of Democrats gaining control of Congress and the White House, lawmakers in Washington state are hopeful ongoing federal pandemic relief for local and state governments will regain traction in Congress. Federal aid, between now and Sine Die (the end of the state session), will have major budgetary implications for the state.

Revenue decline — The pandemic continues to have dramatic impacts on Washington state’s budget. Although state tax revenues are declining due to a decrease in business activity, many state expenses continue to rise. These include healthcare, unemployment benefits, and other pandemic-related needs. Currently, the state budget hole stands at roughly $3.2 billion. This is significantly less than earlier predictions but will still force legislators to balance the budget with a tax increase, spending cuts, and/or tapping into the state’s Budget Stabilization Account (Rainy Day Fund).

Party priorities — Democrats have vowed to address state unemployment insurance challenges, state payroll support for businesses, and other pandemic-related needs, including vaccine rollout, personal protective equipment, increased healthcare coverage, and testing. Additional Democratic priorities include legislation to address growing childcare demands and costs; racial justice and law enforcement reforms (e.g., chokeholds ban, training for police, etc.), childcare funding, educational equity, and climate change.

Republicans, currently in the minority in both the House and Senate, have also begun working towards their 2021 priorities. State Republicans have prioritized reopening Washington schools and businesses to get Washingtonians back to work. Additional priorities of the Republican caucuses include opposing tax increases and holding Democrats accountable for mismanagement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SPEEA’s 2021 legislative priorities — Priorities brought forward by SPEEA members include:

  • COVID-19 safety and transparencySPEEA supports enhanced workplace safety measures and mandatory disclosure of workplace COVID-19 cases to employees and employees’ representatives.
  • College affordability – SPEEA calls on lawmakers to support high-quality aerospace jobs through continued public investments in workforce development, including in high-demand aerospace degrees, career and technical colleges, apprenticeship, and incumbent worker training.
  • Childcare – Across the state, families continue to grapple with the challenges related to childcare access and affordability. Rising childcare costs can be barriers for providers and parents alike, leaving Washington with a small workforce and unaffordable service. SPEEA families need better access to safe and affordable childcare options, especially during times of crisis.
  • Passage of a robust transportation package Washington state’s aerospace industry needs continual and enhanced investments in state transportation systems to keep our region globally competitive. The 2019 Aerospace Competitive Economics Study (ACES) ranked Washington’s road condition as 40th out of 50 states. Without continued investments, the state’s poor transportation infrastructure could bring down Washington’s aerospace competitiveness, impacting industry jobs and growth.

Member participation

Every SPEEA member can help shape the priorities and direction of our union’s legislative and political efforts! Participation in SPEEA not only gives members a voice at work, but through our union, members can have a much broader effect on laws that govern our industry, workforce, and pocketbook. By mobilizing around our priorities, SPEEA is a strong voice for aerospace workers and their families at the state and federal level. Help us continue to grow power for aerospace workers by contacting:

Legislative Flier - pdf

New advocacy tools

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washington Legislature is holding meetings and events remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this year’s unique session, it is critical SPEEA members and families continue to participate during the legislative session.

Participating remotely:

  • Engage  Join SPEEA in union member “calls to action,” hosted events, and remote campaigns.
  • Learn  The whole legislative process, from start to finish, is explained here.
  • Watch  Go to for broadcasts of debates, votes, committee meetings, and other events in the House and Senate.
  • Research  Look up legislation by lawmaker or topic, visit the bill information site.
  • Testify  Holding a remote session does not mean SPEEA members do not have a voice. The legislature has a new system to submit remote testimony on any bill.

Contact if you are interested in participating in written or public testimony on a bill before the legislature.