NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, February 10th, 2012

State House passes NPI-supported bill to make ballot advertising more transparent

Good news out of the Capitol Campus this afternoon: Washington’s House of Representatives has just approved a bill sponsored by Representative Andy Billig that makes it easier for voters to find out who’s trying to influence them to vote in favor of (or in opposition to) ballot measures. I testified in favor of this bill before the State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee a couple weeks ago, along with NPI board member Steve Zemke and NPI contributor Steve Breaux.

The vote was seventy-five to twenty-two. The roll call was as follows:

Voting Yea:  Representatives Ahern, Anderson, Angel, Appleton, Armstrong, Asay, Bailey, Billig, Blake, Carlyle, Clibborn, Cody, Darneille, Dickerson, Dunshee, Eddy, Finn, Fitzgibbon, Goodman, Green, Haigh, Hansen, Hargrove, Harris, Hasegawa, Hope, Hudgins, Hunt, Hunter, Hurst, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kelley, Kenney, Kirby, Ladenburg, Liias, Lytton, Maxwell, McCoy, Miloscia, Moeller, Morris, Moscoso, Orcutt, Ormsby, Orwall, Parker, Pedersen, Pettigrew, Pollet, Probst, Reykdal, Rivers, Roberts, Rodne, Ross, Ryu, Santos, Seaquist, Sells, Smith, Springer, Stanford, Sullivan, Takko, Tharinger, Upthegrove, Van De Wege, Walsh, Warnick, Wylie, Zeiger, and Mr. Speaker [Representative Chopp]

Voting Nay:  Representatives Alexander, Buys, Chandler, Condotta, Crouse, Dahlquist, Dammeier, DeBolt, Fagan, Haler, Hinkle, Klippert, Kretz, Kristiansen, McCune, Overstreet, Pearson, Schmick, Shea, Short, Taylor, and Wilcox

Excused:  Representative Nealey

A number of Republicans crossed over to join all of the House’s Democrats in voting aye on the bill. However, the four Republicans on the House’s State Government Committee – who conferred with Mukilteo initiative profiteer Tim Eyman prior to opposing the bill in executive session – all voted no (Representatives Taylor, Overstreet, Condotta, and Alexander).

Taylor and Overstreet each offered multiple amendments to the bill on the House floor (most would have weakened the bill), but they were all rejected.

Current state law requires that all written political advertising (whether pertaining to candidates or ballot propositions) include the name and address of the person or entity paying for the advertising. Radio and television advertising must include the sponsor’s name. The use of made-up or assumed names is prohibited.

HB 2499 requires that any advertising for or against ballot measures costing more than a thousand dollars must identify the top five contributors of the political committee that paid for the advertising.

It’s not an ambitious bill, but it’s important nonetheless.

HB 2499 now heads to the state Senate. After it receives its first reading there, it will likely be referred to the Government Operations, Tribal Relations, & Elections Committee, which is currently chaired by Senator Craig Pridemore.

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