Learn About the Legislature


How to think like a legislator

Legislators are people, too.  They think, act, analyze, and respond to things similarly to the way that you do.  As a general rule of thumb, communication is always a good idea, even if you don’t think a legislator or staff member will agree with your position.  Remember, you, the voter, are their employer, and you should treat them with respect in the way that you would an employee.

Watch these videos to get some more ideas on how to think and interact with legislators and staff.

Building a long-term relationship with my legislator

Legislators are impacted most by the people they respect and have positive relationships with.  Those relationships can take a long time to build.  While some legislators make themselves more available to the public than others, there is never an excuse for you not to be able to communicate with a public official in a respectful, effective way.


What do I need to know about visiting the Capitol?

The Capitol can be an intimidating place.  But it is the people’s house, and it belongs to Washingtonians.  While there are a lot of things going on at the Capitol building, having a campus map handy can make navigating it very simple.

We’ve got you covered.  And if you have any questions, feel free to email grassroots@fpiw.org.

Where Do I Park?

On-campus parking is $1.50 per hour, payable at the nearest kiosk. We recommend you bring a supply of $1 bills because the parking kiosks have been known to reject credit/debit cards.

The City of Olympia Downtown Parking Map details the off-campus parking locations, as well as metered information.

Thurston County’s complimentary DASH Shuttle is available near most off-site parking locations. The service runs throughout the day from the Capitol Campus into downtown Olympia. The stops are noted on the DASH Shuttle Route Map.

Accessible parking is available inside the guarded lots at the end of Sid Snyder Avenue SW, behind the Legislative Building, and 15th Avenue SW, behind the John A. Cherberg Building. Use the Campus Map to locate these parking areas.

Do not park on residential side streets because the Capitol Police will ticket you!


The legislative process is a challenging thing to understand. With so many rules and procedures, it can be nearly impossible to keep up.  Below, you’ll see a flow chart of the trip a bill takes to become law here in Washington State.  Of course, politics are always at play and a bill may be kept from even getting a fair hearing, but this is how the process functions at its most basic level.


A legislator in the House or Senate must introduce the bill in their respective chamber. Remember a bill must ultimately pass in both chambers and be signed by the governor to become law.


Once a bill is introduced, it is assigned to a committee, which may amend, add, or remove portions of the bill. If the bill is approved by the appropriate committee(s), it will be sent to the floor of the chamber for a recorded vote.

Recorded Vote

After a bill is passed through committee(s), it may be introduced for a vote in the house. With a simple majority, the bill passes.  If it fails in one of the two chambers, however, it cannot become law.  If the bill passes with a majority in both chambers, it moves onto the next stage.

Governor’s Signature

In order for bills to become law, they must be approved by both chambers and be signed by the governor. In Washington, the Governor has the authority to veto specific sections of a bill while still signing the bill into law.  The legislature can override any Governor’s veto with a two-thirds majority in each chamber.

See some videos on the legislative process below: