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2023 Washington State Legislative Session Recap

Washington State legislators convened on January 9 for the 105-day session focused on several top-of-mind topics impacting their constituents—housing affordability and supply, public safety, equity in the state’s tax system, and protecting reproductive and gender-affirming care following recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings. Notably, there was a return to meetings with legislators and committee hearings conducted in-person for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. One protocol that remains is remote testimony, which has increased the public’s access to and participation in committee proceedings.

For WTIA, our legislative work is centered on our 2023 policy priorities, with equity at the core.  Our primary areas of focus this session were:  

  • investing in education and reskilling to create a workforce that helps maintain Washington state as a global leader in technology innovation,
  • enacting sensible privacy legislation that protects people, property, and industry innovation, and 
  • supporting the state’s technology employees to ensure our communities thrive in an equitable and inclusive way.

Throughout the session, WTIA welcomed the chance to work with our members, partner associations, and policymakers on several topics, tracking and engaging on over 90 bills. If you would like to be involved in our policy work or want to learn more, please feel free to reach out to Kelly Fukai, WTIA VP of Government and Community Affairs at, or Brittany Jarnot, WTIA Public Policy Manager, at


Invest in education and reskilling 

Much of the focus this session was on workforce development and ways to support students at all levels as they move toward career pathways. There were many wins in this regard, including creation of an apprenticeship preparation pilot program and investments to support those participating in apprenticeship programs; expansion of the College Bound Scholarship, summer Running Start, and elimination of College in the High School fees to help low-income students access these opportunities; and investment in degree programs like those at the University of Washington that support access to computer science education for students from diverse backgrounds. 

One topic that will continue to be under discussion is the use of the Workforce Education Investment Account. A significant portion of the funds in this account come from high-tech companies via a surcharge on their business and occupation (B&O) taxes. WTIA was part of the initial negotiations around this surcharge, understanding that the intent was to use these funds to further the attainment of high-skilled, STEM education degrees. WTIA will continue to be part of the discussions around how these funds are used to ensure we continue to grow this essential part of the workforce. 


Enact sensible online privacy regulations

The most notable piece of legislation that passed in the technology regulation space this session was the “My Health, My Data” Act. One of many bills in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2022 that struck down the right to an abortion, this legislation creates a consumer data privacy regime to address any data that could be considered related to a consumer’s health. Affirmative consent is required for any collection, sharing, or sale of consumer health data, a separate privacy policy must be displayed prominently on the company’s website, and a geofence (a virtual fence or perimeter around a location) may not be established within 2,000 of a healthcare facility.

The state attorney general has the right to enforce this act, and there is also a private right of action for individuals. WTIA worked in coalition with other business groups to support the intent of this legislation, but expressed concerns about its breadth and scope, as well as its enforcement provisions. This bill is the first data privacy bill in the nation to include a full private right of action; it will be used as a template in other states to protect consumer health data, as well as to support further attempts at comprehensive data privacy legislation in Washington state. 


Thriving Communities – Affordability and livability 

Top of mind for most legislators this session was housing and housing affordability. With pandemic-induced inflation exacerbating the already-stark housing crisis in Washington state, legislators acted on many bills to address housing supply, permitting regulations, and affordability. One such bill that WTIA supported is known as the “missing middle housing” legislation—it requires cities to include zoning for more types of high-density housing in areas traditionally reserved for single-family units. The Legislature also provided significant funding for the Housing Trust Fund and other key supports. 

One other looming issue the Legislature did not get across the finish line in the regular session relates to a decision by the state supreme court last year on drug possession criminal statutes. Known as the Blake decision, the court found much of the state’s criminal drug possession laws unconstitutional. The Legislature at that time passed an emergency fix to allow for further deliberation. That fix would have expired on July 1, 2023, and despite their efforts, agreement was unable to be reached by the end of the regular session. However, due to the importance of this matter and concern for a patchwork of local laws, a very short, six-hour special session convened May 16 to pass a negotiated solution to avoid this potentially dire outcome.


Advance DEI in the technology sector

Another housing-related bill WTIA supported relates to long-standing equity and access issues for those from BIPOC and other underrepresented communities. Washington state was among the many states that had racial restrictions in its housing covenants for many decades, and while those are now outlawed, the remnants of these restrictive covenants remain and keep people of color out of housing in several jurisdictions. The legislation passed this session creates a fund to provide people impacted by these covenants with down payment assistance. 


  • Kelly Fukai

    Kelly Fukai is the Vice President, Government and Community Affairs at WTIA. Connect with her on Linkedin.

  • Brittany Jarnot

    Brittany Jarnot (she/her) is the Public Policy Manager at WTIA where she assists with the association's advocacy on policy issues impacting Washington's technology sector. She previously worked in the district office of U.S. Representative Rick Larsen. She has a B.A. in Political Science and French from Gonzaga University.

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