NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Bills to strengthen initiative ballot titles and phase out odd year elections move forward

Two of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s pri­or­i­ty bills for the 2022 Wash­ing­ton State leg­isla­tive ses­sion earned a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion in their com­mit­tee of ori­gin today, which means that each will sur­vive the first cut­off of the session.

House Bills 1727 and 1876, both prime spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mia Gregerson, received votes of sup­port from a major­i­ty of the House State Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee this morn­ing in exec­u­tive ses­sion, with all four Democ­rats vot­ing aye and all three Repub­li­cans vot­ing nay.

HB 1727 would phase out most elec­tions in odd-num­bered years in Wash­ing­ton State, tack­ling the prob­lem of elec­tion fatigue, sav­ing resources, and sig­nif­i­cant­ly increas­ing turnout across local elec­tions. NPI’s research shows that a major­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers sup­port this change, while only about a quar­ter are opposed.

HB 1876 would improve ini­tia­tive bal­lot titles by requir­ing that pro­ject­ed fis­cal impacts be dis­closed to vot­ers before the “Yes” or “No” ovals appear­ing on the bal­lot, but after the con­cise descrip­tion the law cur­rent­ly pro­vides for.

NPI Leg­isla­tive Direc­tor Kathy Saka­hara and I tes­ti­fied in sup­port of these bills last week when they received their pub­lic hearings.

The roll call on each bill was the same:

Vot­ing for a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Javier Valdez (Chair), Debra Lekanoff (Vice Chair), Lau­rie Dolan, Mia Gregerson

Vot­ing for a “do not pass” rec­om­men­da­tion: Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Mike Volz, Jen­ny Gra­ham, Jim Walsh

As a result of earn­ing a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion, each bill will sur­vive the ini­tial Feb­ru­ary 3rd cut­off for pol­i­cy bills and advance to the House Rules Com­mit­tee. Whether either bill goes to the floor for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion will be up to House lead­er­ship (head­ed by Speak­er Lau­rie Jink­ins and Major­i­ty Leader Pat Sul­li­van). The bills will need to sur­vive the cham­ber of ori­gin cut­off lat­er in Feb­ru­ary to remain alive and be con­sid­ered in the Wash­ing­ton State Senate.

The Leg­is­la­ture’s even-num­bered year reg­u­lar ses­sions last only six­ty days. The ses­sion must adjourn Sine Die in accor­dance with the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion no lat­er than March 10th, 2022.

While Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­isla­tive lead­ers have said they want to focus on COVID relief, pol­ish­ing police reform bills passed last year, and adopt­ing a set of sup­ple­men­tal bud­gets, they do have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to act deci­sive­ly to make our state’s elec­tions fair­er, and they should make the most of that opportunity.

NPI thanks Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Valdez, Lekanoff, Dolan, and Gregerson for their lead­er­ship in mov­ing these ben­e­fi­cial bills for­ward past the first cutoff.

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