Legislation that would ban gender-based price discrimination is halfway to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk following a successful vote by the Washington State Senate to approve Senate Bill 5171, prime sponsored by Senator Manka Dhingra (D‑45th District: Redmond, Kirkland, Sammamish, Duvall).
SSB 5171 is youth-inspired legislation that Dhingra, a Northwest Progressive Foundation boardmember, introduced in partnership with civically-oriented students from Lake Washington High School in Kirkland. If passed, it will stop retailers from charging Washingtonians (especially those who identify as female) extra for products merely because they are marketed to a particular gender.
“There’s no reason a product in a pink package should be more expensive than one in a blue package,” said Dhingra in a statement released by the Senate Democratic caucus. “If there is a legitimate reason that one product is more expensive than another, like more expensive ingredients or more difficult manufacturing processes, those products would not be affected by this law.
“But pure gender-based price discrimination? That shouldn’t be allowed to stand. Let’s eliminate the pink tax — and let’s be more inclusive than simply pink or blue.”
“Even when price differences are small, over time they add up,” caucus staff note.
“A study in California found that gender-based pricing costs women about $1,300 per year. In 2020, women in Washington made 80 cents for every dollar made by men, a disparity exacerbated by paying more for many consumer goods. Based on existing law in New York and California, SB 5171 authorizes the Attorney General to enforce the ban on discriminatory pricing.”
The roll call vote on Senate Bill 5171 was as follows:
3rd Reading & Final Passage
Yeas: 27; Nays: 21; Excused: 1
Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Cleveland, Conway, Dhingra, Frame, Hasegawa, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, Lovelett, Lovick, Mullet, Nguyen, Nobles, Pedersen, Randall, Robinson, Rolfes, Saldaña, Salomon, Stanford, Trudeau, Valdez, Van De Wege, Wellman, Wilson (Claire)
Voting Nay: Senators Boehnke, Braun, Dozier, Fortunato, Gildon, Hawkins, Holy, King, MacEwen, McCune, Muzzall, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Shewmake, Short, Torres, Wagoner, Warnick, Wilson (Jeff) Wilson (Lynda)
Excused: Senator Kauffman
No Republicans voted for the bill.
A substitute version was adopted in a floor vote prior to the vote on final passage.
Frontline Democratic Senator Sharon Shewmake (D‑42nd District: Whatcom County) voted against it. Democratic Senator Claudia Kauffman missed the vote.
The bill has faced opposition from the Washington Food Industry Association (WFIA), which represents independent and family grocers. It is supported by Redmond City Council President Jessica Forsythe and Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet, who represent the biggest cities in the Lake Washington School District.
NPI congratulates Senator Dhingra and the Lake Washington High School students who helped bring this legislation to fruition on the success of today’s vote. We urge the House of Representatives to follow suit and approve this legislation.