You may have recently received a notification that a bill you’re watching was assigned to the Rules “X” file. What does that mean?

No, it doesn’t mean that Scully and Mulder have been assigned to the case. Although that might be far more interesting!

The short answer is “X” filing a bill is just a way for the Rules Committee of each branch (House or Senate) to note that it is very unlikely for the bill to continue progress in the current legislative session.  This is most commonly due to a bill being ineligible for further consideration based on not making a legislative cut off date.  For example Senate Bill 5078 – the standard capacity magazine ban – did not receive or pass a vote in the Senate prior to the March 9th, 2021 deadline for non-budget bills to pass the house of origin and therefore cannot proceed in the 2021 session.  The Senate Rules Committee assigned the bill to the “X” file on March 17th as a form of housekeeping.

It is important to note however that an “X” file determination does not have “any legal or parliamentary effect” on the bill and absent other bounds such as the legislative cutoff, an “X” file bill could still be revived within the session.  Most legislative rules are set by the legislature and as such they themselves have the power to vote and change the rules so always keep an eye out for updates on bills from the Washington Civil Rights Association.

And they will probably be back the next legislative session if we’re in the budget session of the 2-year legislative session like we are now.