Legislation & Research

The Office of the City Clerk keeps the records of the City Council and makes them available to the public. We also get and keep  many different types of documents from City departments that they are required by law or policy to file with us. See below for more information about the records we hold, how to find them, and what you can learn from them.

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Agendas, Minutes, and Other Meeting Records
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Agendas

How to get them

Learn More About Agendas

Minutes

How to get them

Learn More About Minutes

Audio Recordings

How to get them

  • If you know the date and name of a meeting, you can visit our research room to listen to a recording, or you can contact us to request a digital copy (mp3)
  • To find a meeting that's of interest to you, you can search agendas (see above) for topics or specific legislation.
  • We share our digital audio files with the Washington State Digital Archives, and you can do keyword searches within our audio records on WSDA's website
  • The Seattle Channel broadcasts all Council and committee meetings, and the videos can be streamed or downloaded on their website for several years after meetings take place.
Learn More About Audio Recordings

Committees and Committee Records

How to get them

  • See a list of current City Council standing committees and select committees, what they work on, when they meet, who is on them, and their published agendas.
  • Search descriptions and membership information for Council committees from 1946 to present.
  • Records of currently active committees are held by the office of the Councilmembers who chair them.
  • Committee records are transferred to the Seattle Municipal Archives (SMA) when Councilmembers leave office, and can be found by searching for committee names or Councilmember names in the SMA's record series guide.
Learn More About Committees & Committee Records

More About the Legislative Process

All actions taken by the City Council are taken on behalf of the people they represent. The legislative process ensures that they take these actions openly, and that the public have a chance to express their opinion on those actions.

  • See the Rules that the Council has adopted to govern its conduct and how meetings are run
  • See an overview of how the legislative process works in the City of Seattle
Council Bills, Ordinances, Resolutions, and Related Records
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Council Bills and Ordinances

Where to find them

  • New and recent: February 2015-present Tip: Choose Council Bill or Ordinance from the Document Type menu, or leave unselected to search both
  • All completed (acted on by Council): 1869-present
Learn More About Council Bills & Ordinances

Resolutions

Where to find them

  • New and recent: February 2015-present Tip: Choose Resolution from the Document Type menu
  • All completed (acted on by Council): 1869-present
Learn More About Resolutions

Appointments

Where to find them

  • New and recent: February 2015-present Tip: Choose Appointment from the Document Type menu
  • All completed (acted on by Council): 1869-2015 Tip: Search in Title using appointment + the name of an individual or board/commission
Learn More About Appointments

Council Land Use Actions

Where to find them

  • New and recent: February 2015-present Tip: Choose Clerk File from the Document Type menu
  • All completed (acted on by Council): 1869-present
Learn More About Council Land Use Actions

Information Items, Reports, Presentations, and Other Background Information

Where to find them

  • New and recent: February 2015-present Tip: use the Related Information section of the search page to search within these attached documents
  • In earlier years, these types of supporting documents may have been
    • Linked from agendas
    • Mentioned on agendas and available in committee records
    • Designated as Comptroller Files or attached to legislation when it was transmitted to the Council

Searching Combined Legislation

You may not be sure which type of document will have the information you need, or there may be several that could, so it can be helpful to search within different types of documents at the same time.

More on the Legislative Process

All actions taken by the City Council are taken on behalf of the people they represent. The legislative process ensures that they take these actions openly, and that the public have a chance to express their opinion on those actions.

  • See the Rules that the Council has adopted to govern its conduct and how meetings are run
  • See an overview of how the legislative process works in the City of Seattle
Rules, Contracts, Reports, and Other Filings
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Department Rules and Director's Rules

Where to find them

Learn More About Rules

Interlocal Agreements

  • Can be found in the Clerk Files database
  • Interlocal agreements document commitments made between the City of Seattle and other jurisdictions, such as King County or the State of Washington
  • Most of these agreements are authorized by ordinance
  • Tip: search for them using the name of the other party to the agreement, or keywords describing the subject

Reports

  • City departments, public corporations, and other entities file annual or other types of reports with us, including the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report prepared by the City Budget Office
  • You can find these in our Clerk Files database
  • Some are available as PDFs or online text, especially from 2010 forward
  • Earlier items are available in paper or on microfiche and can be reviewed in our research room

Consultant Contracts

Where to find them

Learn More About Consultant Contracts

Records of Public Corporations

Findings, Decisions, Recommendations of the Hearing Examiner

Where to find them

Learn More About Information from the Hearing Examiner
Budgets, Budget Materials, and Annual Financial Reports
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Proposed, Adopted, and Endorsed Budgets

Where to find them

Learn More About Budgets

Council Budget Review Materials: Green Sheets, Budget Guidance Statements, Statements of Legislative Intent

Where to find them

Learn More About Budget Materials
Seattle City Charter and Seattle Municipal Code
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Seattle Municipal Code(SMC)

Where to find them

  • The currentSMC is hosted online by our codifier and updated on an ongoing basis
  • The current print edition, updated quarterly, can be reviewed in our research room and at some branches of the Seattle Public Library
  • Versions of the SMC as it stood in 1973, 1980, and at the end of 1995-2012 are also available online and in our research room
Learn More About the SMC

Seattle City Charter

Where to find it

Learn More About the Seattle City Charter
Initiative, Referendum, Charter Amendment - Powers of the People
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Seattle's City Charter guarantees the people certain direct powers, including the power to suggest legislation to be voted on directly by the people (initiative), the power to propose a vote of the people to overturn legislation passed by the City (referendum), and the power to propose an amendment to the City Charter to be voted on by the people.

Initiative, Referendum, and Charter Amendment Guides

The City Clerk plays a role in part of these processes. Although we cannot and do not provide legal advice, we do offer informal information for those interested in exercising these rights.

Initiatives in City Clerk Files

See documentation of initiatives that have been filed with the Office of the City Clerk.

Historical List of Initiatives

View a comprehensive history of initiatives from 1910 to 2014 provided by the Seattle Municipal Archives.

Referenda in City Clerk Files

See documentation of referenda that have been filed with the Office of the City Clerk.

Charter Amendments

See documentation of Charter Amendments (City-sponsored as well as public-sponsored) that have been filed with the Office of the City Clerk.
Historical Records
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The Office of the City Clerk is also the home of the Seattle Municipal Archives. The Archives' mission is to preserve and provide access to records of enduring value created or received by City agencies and elected officials. Just a few of the things you can do on their site include:

Find Seattle Quick Facts

  • Brief history of the City
  • Lists of elected officials and department heads
  • Historical election results
  • ballot measures and their outcomes
  • City symbols
  • answers to frequently asked questions

Learn about the Archives' collections

Find recent and historic photos, film, and audio

Get lost in Maps

Enjoy Online Exhibits and hear Seattle Voices

Learn about visiting the Archives - all are welcome!

Help With Research and the Legislative Process
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A core purpose of the Office of the City Clerk is to provide information that helps people understand their government's actions and participate in the public process. This information and the documents that contain it can be complicated, but we are here to help.

Research Assistance

Looking for current legislation? Need the exact text of a City of Seattle law? Interested in the history of City policy?
You can call, e-mail, or visit our information and service desk.

Legislative Research Guide

Learn how to find legislation in our online databases

Finding Legislative History

Review the Municipal Archives' guide for researching Councilmember records, meeting audio, and other materials that can show how legislation was developed.

How a Bill Becomes a Law

Learn the steps of the legislative process, and how laws are made in the City of Seattle.

How to Read a Bill

Council Bills are proposed laws, that will become Ordinances if they are approved by Council. Learn about the structure and parts of Council Bills.

Public Comment Guide

Learn which types of meetings provide for public comment, how to sign up to speak, and what to expect.

Legislative Glossary

Look up the meanings of words used in describing legislation or the legislative process.