Hold on — ‘The Evergreen State’ isn’t Washington’s nickname?

The cover of Washington the Evergreen State and Seattle Its Metropolis, which was used to promote the state at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Even though Washington became a state only about four years earlier, the “Evergreen” moniker was already in use. (Image courtesy of Washington State Libraries)

Washington is widely recognized as “The Evergreen State.” Been that way for more than a century.

Yet no one’s ever made the nickname official. This year, the Washington Legislature might.

Last week, a nearly unanimous state Senate took the first step by approving legislation that would put the well-known moniker into law. Senate Bill 5595 now goes to the House for consideration.

“I think it’s well past time to make it official,” said Sen. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, sponsor of the bill.

Charles Conover of Seattle is credited with coining the phrase roughly 130 years ago, even putting it on the cover of a brochure promoting Washington at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Wilson said.

These days you find “The Evergreen State” on license plates, souvenirs and the quarter honoring the state of Washington.

And even as Washington has an official state song, state dance and state dinosaur, its nickname awaits the stamp of official.

If the bill becomes law, it won’t cost taxpayers a dime.

“Nothing in this bill would require any entity to update or revise any existing materials,  documents, or publications,” wrote authors of an analysis of its potential financial impacts.

Wilson got 39 colleagues – 21 Democrats and 18 Republicans – to sign on as co-sponsors when he introduced the bill in 2023. Last session the Senate approved it unanimously but it didn’t make it out of the House Rules Committee.

A Senate vote Tuesday didn’t turn out quite the same as it passed 47-2 with Democratic Sens. Marko Liias of Edmonds and Derek Stanford of Bothell dissenting.

“It’s a waste of time. We should have been talking about .05,” a peeved Liias wrote in a text following the vote.

Liias has tried for two sessions to lower the legal limit for driving drunk in Washington, pushing legislation to reduce the maximum allowable blood alcohol concentration for drivers from 0.08% to 0.05%.

Tuesday, Feb. 13 marked the deadline to pass non-budget bills out of the chamber where they originated. Senate Bill 5002 to lower the limit didn’t get voted on.

“This is the most impactful thing we can do to reduce traffic fatalities and save lives,” Liias said Monday when it had become clear that the bill was likely not advancing.

— By Jerry Cornfield, Washington State Standard

Washington State Standard is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Washington State Standard maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Bill Lucia for questions: info@washingtonstatestandard.com. Follow Washington State Standard on Facebook and X.

  1. “And even as Washington has an official state song, state dance and state dinosaur …”

    Don’t forget the state mollusk, the banana slug.

  2. I remember moving here many years ago and reading the Evergreen State motto. Then I traveled to the eastern part of the state. I was so disappointed when I observed the less than evergreen part of the state which is
    quite dry. Maybe that is why the “Evergreen State” is not our official motto.

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