Under the measure, an outside consultant would review both Washington state's ongoing efforts to cut carbon emissions and similar endeavors elsewhere. It would then report back to the governor and legislative leaders.
As passed by the Senate, language warning of the perils of climate change was struck from the measure. Supporters say the bill would help the state reach its target of reducing 2020 greenhouse gas emissions levels to those of 1990.
The measure "has the ability to improve the state's energy independence and competiveness and grow many sectors of our economy," said Democratic Sen. Kevin Ranker of Orcas Island, the bill sponsor.
Also speaking in favor of the bill was Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen of Whatcom County, who said it would help the state identify how to reduce carbon emissions in "the most cost-effective fashion possible."
The bill passed by a vote of 37-12, with two Democrats and 10 Republicans voting against.
The only lawmaker speaking against the bill during the floor debate was Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, a former high school science teacher and climate science skeptic.
"I think there's a lot of pseudoscience here," said Carrell, who questioned the causal link between carbon dioxide emissions and rising global temperatures. "I have no problem with the earth warming right now."
Inslee spokesman David Postman said the governor was pleased that the Senate had advanced the measure.
"It is a step toward dealing with carbon pollution and the effects of climate change," Postman said.
The governor does not support some of the amendments to the bill added by the upper chamber, Postman noted, including the removal of language in the intent section warning of climate change's destructive force.
Senate Bill 5802 heads next to the House.