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Introducing more, passing less - the state legislative trends that surprise

Sometimes the story of a legislative session can be told in two simple stats: the number of bills introduced, and the number of bills completed.

As we watched the legislative sessions in Idaho, Washington and Wyoming unfold this year (Montana didn't have a session in 2024), there were unmistakable trends: Idaho legislators are introducing more legislation, Washington legislators are introducing fewer bills, and Wyoming is just about status quo.

Whether any of that is good or bad news might depend on your interests.

Let's start our analysis in Idaho.

In blue are the number of bills introduced. In orange, the number completed. It appears to be about the same as previous years. But in reality, lawmakers this year introduced 718 bills - the most since 2021 and the highest amount in the past 15 years. About 51% were adopted, slightly lower than last year's 53%.

Overall, there's a clear trend in Idaho - more bills are being introduced and fewer are actually being completed.

In Washington state, the opposite is true.

State lawmakers in the Evergreen State work on a biennium (two sessions). Total introductions for the most recent biennium hit 3090, the lowest amount of any year (minus COVID) in at least a decade. But lawmakers in Olympia also completed 1050 bills, the highest number in at least 15 years. The trend is clear - fewer bills, but more passing.

Finally in Wyoming, the only discernible trend is no trend at all.

The number of bills being introduced in both budget (even) and regular (odd) years seems fairly consistent, with 2019 being the year that lawmakers introduced and completed the most.

Whether bills actually make it through the process or not, the introduction of a bill takes time and taxpayer resources. It can also lay the groundwork for future legislative proposals. So, take a break from watching the legislative calendars for now, but stay tuned.

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