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Washington State Government

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Image source:http://leg.wa.gov
The Government of Washington is guarded and established by the Washington Constitution. The state also has a local government comprising of counties, special districts and municipalities. The government of Washington is divided into three distinct branches, namely the Executive branch (Governor of Washington, constitutionally elected officers and state agencies), the Legislative branch (the House of Representatives and the Senate) and the Judicial branch (Supreme Court and lower courts).

Washington Executive Branch

The Executive branch of Washington is a well functioning body of the government of Washington. The branch consists of the Governor of Washington, Constitutionally elected officials and the Governor's cabinet. The other elected officers include the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney-General, the Secretary of State, the Treasurer, the Commissioner of Public Lands, the Auditor, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The officers may serve the state for four year terms with the exception of that of the officially non partisan Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Image source: http://access.wa.gov

The Governor of Washington is elected by Washington gubernatorial election held every four years.

Under the Constitution of Washington-

  • The governor of Washington appoints all the head of the state departments after a consent and counsel of the Washington State Senate.

  • The governor can exercise his/her executive power and functions as the Chief of the state military reserve and the National Guard.

  • He/she can exercise line time veto, in which he/she has the power to grant death sentences and the jurisdiction to excuse convicted criminals except in the cases when an official is convicted of unlawful activities or involving impeachment.

Contact Details:
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Phone: 360-902-4111 TTY/TDD users can contact the Washington Relay Service at 711 or 1-800-833-6388.
Fax: 360-753-4110

Office of Governor of Washington

The Lieutenant Governor of Washington may exercise the governor’s duties only in situations when the governor is incapable of performing his/her duties due to death, resignation, impeachment, termination from office, or other disability. Based on whether he/she is a member of the cabinet of the governor, executive authority may or may not be rendered to the lieutenant governor. The lieutenant governor is also elected for a four year term.

Contact Details:
Office of the Lt. Governor
220 Legislative Building (a.k.a. Capitol building)
416 Sid Snyder Ave. S.W. Olympia, Washington
Phone: (360) 786-7700
Fax: (360) 786-7749

Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Washington
Image source: http://leg.wa.gov

Contact Details of the Other Elected Officials:

Washington Secretary of State

The Secretary of State is a constitutionally elected official in the executive branch of state government. The secretary has many duties and responsibilities to fulfil for the state, including administration of elections and providing certain business services to the public.

Contact Details:
416 Sid Snyder Ave. S.W.
Legislative Building
Olympia, WA
Email: mail@sos.wa.gov
Telephone: (360) 902-4151
Website: http://www.sos.wa.gov/office/

Washington Attorney General

The Attorney General is the highest ranking law enforcement officer for the state. He/she is the head of the Department of Law, and is regarded as the State's chief legal officer.

Contact Details:
1125 Washington Street SE
PO Box 40100
Olympia, WA98504-0100
Phone: (360) 753-6200
Customer Care: 1-800-551-4636 (in-state only) or 1-206-464-6684 (out-of-state callers)
Website: http://www.atg.wa.gov/Default.aspx

Washington State Treasurer

The State Treasurer is responsible to efficiently manage the finances and public resources. The Treasurer also has the responsibility to overview cash management, debt management, pension funds etc. of the state.

Contact Details:
416 Sid Snyder Avenue SW
Legislative Building, Room 230
Phone: 360.902.9000 or TTY Users: dial 711
Fax: General: 360.902.9037
E-mail: watreas@tre.wa.gov
Website: http://www.tre.wa.gov/index.shtml

Washington State Auditor

The State Auditor has the responsibility to exercise certain duties by law to review the books, records and accounts annually of every state department and also to perform financial audits of local government agencies that use the privileges of state funds.

Contact Details:
Insurance Building
Capitol Campus
302 Sid Snyder Avenue SW
Olympia, Washington 98504-0021
Phone: (360) 902-0370

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Office
Old Capitol Building
600 Washington St. S.E.
Olympia, WA 98504-7200
Phone: (360) 725-6000 TTY (360) 664-3631
Website: https://www.k12.wa.us/

Washington Insurance Commissioner
302 Sid Snyder Ave.
SW, Suite 200,
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: 360-725-7171
Website: http://www.insurance.wa.gov/

Washington State Legislative Branch

Washington State Legislature is the body of the state government of Washington which is divided into two separate houses, namely House of Representatives and Washington Senate. There are 49 legislative districts of equal population in the state. Each district is served by two representatives who are elected for two-year terms and one senator, who may serve for four-year terms and both may serve for any number of terms. The two legislatures meet in the Legislative Building at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia.

Image source: http://leg.wa.gov

The Washington House of Representatives consist of 98 elected members from 49 districts [1]. Each member elects one Senator and two members of the House and the members of the House may serve for two-year terms with no term limits. The Washington House of representatives is led by the speaker of the house. The speaker of the House leads the assembly who is elected by the majority party members of the house through a House resolution. The Speaker delegates the duty to the members of the house and manages all legislative committee assignments.

Contact Details of Speaker of the House:
339C Legislative Building
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 786 - 7920

Learn more on: Washington House of Representatives

The Washington State Senate is the upper house of the state legislature and consists of 49 state senators[2]. Each senator is elected for four-year terms with no term limits. The Senate has the power to approve or reject certain appointees to the state cabinet, boards and commissions. The Lieutenant Governor of Washington is the President of the senate who has the right to vote only to break a tie. The president pro tempore is the second in rank to preside over the senate who is elected by the members of the senate through a majority voting system.

Learn more on: Washington State Senate

Learn more on:Washington State Legislature

Washington Judiciary Branch

Under the Washington Constitution, the Judiciary branch applies and interprets laws and regulations to ensure justice in the state. The judicial system of Washington is served by numerous efficient professionally trained judges. The Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) is an association authorized by the Washington Supreme Court, and they operate to license and manage lawyers and attorneys under the authority of the Court. The Washington Court System maintains transparency and quality through the Commission on Judicial Conduct which consists of 11 members. The committee is committed and authorized to investigate any complaints against dis-satisfactory sitting judges and takes all necessary actions on the concerned judges through majority vote of the Supreme Court. The Washington Court system comprises of the Primary Appellate Court-the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Superior Courts.

Supreme Court of Washington

  • The Supreme Court is the court of highest appeal or the court of last resort.

  • The Supreme Court consists of a chief justice of Washington and eight associate justices, all appointed by the governor of Washington for six-year terms. The chief justice in Washington may serve for four-year terms, chosen by the Justices through voting.

  • The Supreme Court has the exclusive judicial powers over death penalty cases, appeals against state officers, criminal and civil matters and also reviews all the decisions of the lower and intermediate courts if the amount or property in dispute exceeds $200.

  • The Supreme Court also has jurisdiction on Writs of quo warranto, prohibition, injunction or mandamus, a statute’s or tax ‘s validity that effects or violates the state constitution.

Court of Appeals of Washington

  • The Court of Appeal is the court of Intermediate appeal.

  • The Court of Appeal hears all cases by a panels of three judges who may serve for six-year terms.

  • The court has jurisdiction to review appeals from final judgments and orders of superior courts and also has the legal authority over petitions such as personal restraint petitions, mandamus and quo warranto writs, cases involving decisions of administrative agencies, appeals from lower courts of limited jurisdiction to review a superior court's decision and appeals from superior court for which there is no alternative effective remedy.
  • The state is divided into three divisions geographically.

    Division I: Based in Seattle
    Division II: Based in Tacoma
    Division III: Based in Sokane

Superior Courts of Washington

  • The Superior Court is the court of general jurisdiction and is superior over a court with limited legal power such as cases or disputes involving small amount.

  • The superior court has jurisdiction over matters related to civil and criminal actions, felonies, misdemeanors, claim and lawsuits, and cases in which other courts are not given full jurisdiction.

  • The court encompasses thirty single or multi-county districts. The Judges of the superior courts are elected to four-year terms.

The Washington district courts and Washington municipal courts

  • The district courts (of counties) and municipal courts (of cities and towns) are courts of limited jurisdiction.

  • The courts have limited jurisdiction over cases involving misdemeanor crimes, domestic violence protection orders, traffic, non-traffic, and parking penalties, civil disputes involving an amount of $75,000 or less, and claims of up to $5,000.

  • The Judges of the district courts may serve for four-year terms while that of municipal courts may serve for four year terms depending on state law.

Learn more on:Washington Court System

Washington Taxation


The Washington Department of Revenue
attends to the tax payers’ needs and expectations and focuses in educating the people on taxation. The Washington state does not levy a personal income tax, corporate tax or franchise tax and inheritance taxes; The various taxes levied are property tax, personal property tax, estate tax, sales tax, excise tax on selective products such as cigarettes, gasoline, and alcoholic beverages, business and occupation tax (B & O) and gross receipts tax on different types of businesses. Retail sales tax are not levied on prescription drugs, sales to Non residents, federal government sales, interstate and foreign sales, manufacturers’ machinery and equipment exemption, sales to Indians or Indian Tribes, newspapers and most foods with the exception of that of dietary supplements, prepared and cooked foods, and soft drinks are exempted from sales tax.

Learn more on:

Local Sales and Use Tax
Local Business and Occupation Tax (B & O)
Property Tax-Local County Treasurer
Tax Rate Calculator

Washington State Agencies

Under the leadership of the governor of Washington, many state agencies operate to manage and administer various departments of the state. The main state agencies of Washington are:

Washington State Department of Revenue

Image source: http://dor.wa.gov
The Washington Department of Revenue manages the entire taxation of the state and also attends to the tax payers’ needs and expectations. The department emphasizes in educating the people on taxation and also to provide updated accurate instructions and information on tax laws and policies. The department provides proper guidance on how to file and pay taxes, what to do before tax filing, filing frequencies and due dates, file or amend any returns, late filing penalties, and guidelines on how to apply tax returns.

Contact Details:
Washington State Department of Revenue
Cash Management Section
Olympia, WA 98504-7464
Phone: 1-800-647-7706
Website: http://dor.wa.gov/content/home/

Contact Links:

Washington State Department of Revenue Phone Directory

Washington State Department of Revenue Address List

Washington State Board of Education

State Board
Image source: http://www.sbe.wa.gov
The Washington State Board of Education operates to improve the public education system and also to enhance student academic achievements and outputs. The department’s mission is to provide world class education and best values to the students to ensure success in education, workplace and in every spheres of life. The department comprises of sixteen statutory members, namely five members elected by local board members from school western and eastern districts in Washington, a private school representative elected by the members of the private schools, Superintendent of Public Instruction elected by statewide election, seven members approved by the Governor, and two high school students each from western Washington and eastern Washington.

Contact Details:
Washington State Board of Education
600 Washington Street SE
P.O. Box 47206
Olympia, Washington 98504
Phone: 360.725.6025
Website: http://www.sbe.wa.gov/

Washington State Department of Public Health

Image source: http://www.doh.wa.gov/
The Washington State Department of Public Health works efficiently to improve the health and living standards of the community by implementing many health regulating services and policies. The health department also has its sub divisions which provide all vital records and health statistics of the state. The health department also focuses on community and environmental health so that people lives a healthy life. The various divisions of the department include Disease Control and Health Statistics, Environmental Public Health, Health Systems Quality Assurance, Office of the Secretary, Prevention and Community Health and Public Health System

Contact Details:
Washington State Department of Health
Olympia, Washington 98504-7890
Phone: 800-525-0127 or TTY Users dial 711
Website: http://www.doh.wa.gov/

Washington State Department of Transportation

Image source: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) overviews the entire transportation network of the state to ensure safe and easy commuting of people and goods. WSDOT owns, manages and maintains numerous lane-miles of roadway, bridges, tunnels, rails and also responsible for air and water quality, communities and roadsides. Some of the Federal and State funding include Nickel Funding, 2005 Transportation Partnerships Projects, ARRA Dashboard, TIGER Grants, and High Speed Passenger Rail.

Contact Details:
310 Maple Park Avenue SE
P.O. Box 47300
Olympia, WA 98504-7300
Phone: 360-705-7000
Website: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/

Washington Military Department

Image source: http://mil.wa.gov/
The Washington Military Department is a significant department which serves as a guardian of the state of Alaska. The department operates as the preparedness, homeland defense, homeland security, emergency preparedness, mitigation,  response and recovery actions to protect the citizens of Washington, their property and the environment. The department also works concurrently with the other divisions, including Emergency Management, Army National Guard, State Guard, Air National Guard,  Washington Youth Academy and State & Federal Support Services. The Washington Military Department diligently works day in and out to provide trained military units for domestic emergencies, national defense and homeland security missions.

Contact Details:
Bldg 1, Camp Murray
Tacoma, WA
Phone: (253) 512-8000
Website: http://mil.wa.gov/

Contact Links:
Washington Military Department Telephone Directory

  1. Washington House of Representatives
  2. Washington State Senator
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