Sunlight (lens flare)
Sunlight (lens flare)

Wash­ing­ton State’s new­ly mint­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­ate major­i­ty notched its first sig­na­ture leg­isla­tive win tonight, bring­ing Andy Bil­lig’s DISCLOSE Act to the floor for a vote and eas­i­ly pass­ing the leg­is­la­tion with the sup­port of sev­er­al Republicans.

The DISCLOSE Act (SSB 5991) is the first bill to be res­cued from the Sen­ate Repub­li­cans’ grave­yard of progress. It aims to bol­ster trans­paren­cy, so that Wash­ing­ton vot­ers have a bet­ter idea of who is try­ing to influ­ence their vote.

Sen­ate Repub­li­cans have for years blocked this noble bill from being dis­cussed and vot­ed on. Tonight — at last! — it received a floor debate in the Sen­ate. And when the time came for sen­a­tors to decide its fate, it was able to pass eas­i­ly with sup­port from both sides of the aisle. This is great news for the State of Washington.

“The bipar­ti­san Sen­ate vote tonight on the DISCLOSE Act takes us one step clos­er to shin­ing a light on dark mon­ey in Wash­ing­ton state elec­tions,” said Bil­lig (D‑6th Dis­trict: Spokane). “Cam­paign trans­paren­cy increas­es account­abil­i­ty, reduces the oppor­tu­ni­ty for cor­rup­tion and strength­ens our democracy.

“The dis­clo­sure loop­hole that this bill will fix is being exploit­ed by groups across the polit­i­cal spec­trum. Ulti­mate­ly, this bill ben­e­fits not one par­ty or anoth­er but the cit­i­zens of our state,” Bil­lig added in his state­ment on the bil­l’s pas­sage. “Most impor­tant­ly, trans­paren­cy of the source of mon­ey in elec­tions cre­ates more informed vot­ers, which ulti­mate­ly results in a health­i­er democracy.”

All twen­ty-five Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors vot­ed to pass SSB 5991. They were joined by sev­en Repub­li­cans: Michael Baum­gart­ner (yes, real­ly!), Joe Fain, Brad Hawkins, Mark Milos­cia, Mau­reen Walsh, Judy War­nick, and Hans Zeiger.

The roll call vote on final pas­sage was as follows:

SSB 5991
Cam­paign finance disclosures
Sen­ate vote on 3rd Read­ing & Final Passage

Yeas: 32; Nays: 17

Vot­ing Yea: Sen­a­tor Baum­gart­ner, Bil­lig, Car­lyle, Chase, Cleve­land, Con­way, Darneille, Dhin­gra, Fain, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hobbs, Hunt, Keis­er, Kud­er­er, Liias, McCoy, Milos­cia, Mul­let, Nel­son, Palum­bo, Ped­er­sen, Ranker, Rolfes, Sal­daña, Takko, Van De Wege, Walsh, War­nick, Well­man, Zeiger

Vot­ing Nay: Sen­a­tor Angel, Bai­ley, Beck­er, Braun, Brown, Erick­sen, For­tu­na­to, Hon­ey­ford, King, O’Ban, Pad­den, Rivers, Schoesler, Shel­don, Short, Wag­oner, Wilson

Tonight’s pas­sage of SSB 5991 was made pos­si­ble by the vic­to­ry of Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra, whose win in the 45th Dis­trict last year shift­ed the bal­ance of pow­er in the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate. Now that Democ­rats run the cham­ber, good bills can get hear­ings and do pass rec­om­men­da­tions in com­mit­tee, Gov­er­nor Inslee’s nom­i­nees can receive the con­sid­er­a­tion they deserve, and long-over­due ideas like the DISCLOSE Act can make it to the Sen­ate floor.

NPI con­grat­u­lates the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate on tak­ing a big step towards greater trans­paren­cy and account­abil­i­ty of mon­ey in pol­i­tics. This is a big deal.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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