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How many introduced bills actually become law?

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

If you've been following the MSPC Legislative Tracker, you know that lawmakers across the region have introduced more than 4,000 new laws in 2023 legislative sessions. Some are important, including a state's official operating budget. Others? Well, let's just say that a state doesn't necessarily need to have an official dinosaur.

As we previously noted, the number of bills introduced in Idaho this year was on track with previous sessions. Washington's bill introductions fell a bit, while Montana's have increased dramatically.

How many of those proposed laws actually make it through the process? It depends on the state.

In Idaho, for example, lawmakers introduced 635 pieces of legislation - with 338 (53%) becoming law. That's the lowest percentage of the past eight legislative sessions.

In Montana, lawmakers have just about wrapped up their work. They are likely to finish their legislative session with the lowest percentage of bills becoming law in quite some time.

And in Washington, lawmakers pushed just 18% of bills across the finish line - the lowest percentage since the 2017 legislative session. (The legislative sessions in Washington work on bienniums, so the 2023-24 percentage could change depending on what happens next January-March).

There are several lessons here. One, lawmakers are introducing more legislation and, two, just because a bill is introduced doesn't mean it will become law.

Still, the introduction of a bill takes time and taxpayer resources. It can also lay the groundwork for future legislative proposals.

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