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.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

Manka Dhingra’s youth-inspired bill to ban gender-based price discrimination advances

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.

Manka Dhingra applauds

Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra, dur­ing her first cam­paign for office (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

“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:

Roll Call
SB 5171
Con­sumer products/gender
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.

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  1. […] With a sup­port to oppo­si­tion ratio of over 3:1, this is leg­is­la­tion that ought to have bipar­ti­san sup­port. How­ev­er, Repub­li­cans uni­form­ly opposed the bill on the floor of the Wash­ing­ton State…. […]

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