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 21st, 2023

Two-thirds of Washington voters support barring gender-based price discrimination

Youth-cham­pi­oned leg­is­la­tion in Olympia that would pro­hib­it gen­der-based price dis­crim­i­na­tion is extreme­ly pop­u­lar with Wash­ing­ton vot­ers, the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s most recent statewide sur­vey has found.

67% of 874 like­ly vot­ers inter­viewed ear­li­er this month by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling voiced sup­port for pro­hibit­ing peo­ple or busi­ness­es “from charg­ing dif­fer­ent prices for two sub­stan­tial­ly sim­i­lar goods based on the gen­der of the per­sons to whom the goods are mar­ket­ed,” which is what Sen­ate Bill 5171 would do if enact­ed. 59% were strong­ly sup­port­ive and anoth­er 8% were some­what supportive.

22% said they were opposed to the idea, while 11% said they were not sure.

SB 5171 passed the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate on March 7th by a vote of 27 to 21. It is being heard this after­noon in the House Com­mit­tee on Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion & Busi­ness. To advance, it must be report­ed out with a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion before the cut-off on Wednes­day, March 29th.

Prime-spon­sored by Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra, the bill is notable for being youth-orga­nized. Stu­dents from Lake Wash­ing­ton High School in Kirk­land brought the leg­is­la­tion to Sen­a­tor Dhin­gra, who made it one of her 2023 pri­or­i­ties. A com­pan­ion bill was intro­duced by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Sharlett Mena in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and had a hear­ing in late Jan­u­ary, but did not advance.

Here’s the text of the ques­tion we asked and the respons­es we received:

QUESTION: Do you strong­ly sup­port, some­what sup­port, some­what oppose, or strong­ly oppose pass­ing a law that pro­hibits busi­ness­es from charg­ing dif­fer­ent prices for any two goods that are sub­stan­tial­ly sim­i­lar based on gender?


  • Sup­port: 67% 
    • Strong­ly sup­port: 59%
    • Some­what sup­port: 8%
  • Oppose: 22%
    • Some­what oppose: 6%
    • Strong­ly oppose: 16%
  • Not sure: 11%

Our sur­vey of 874 like­ly 2024 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Tues­day, March 7th through Wednes­day, March 8th, 2023.

The poll uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and online answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

It was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

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 Sen­ate, which is dis­ap­point­ing.

It might inter­est them and their House col­leagues to know that a plu­ral­i­ty of Repub­li­can vot­ers sup­port bar­ring gen­der-based price discrimination.

Specif­i­cal­ly, 41% of Repub­li­can vot­ers Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling inter­viewed for us said they sup­port­ed pro­hibit­ing busi­ness­es from charg­ing dif­fer­ent prices for any two goods that are sub­stan­tial­ly sim­i­lar based on gen­der. 38% said they were opposed and 21% were not sure. That’s sig­nif­i­cant. Inde­pen­dent vot­ers were also very enthu­si­as­tic, with 59% of them express­ing sup­port for the bill along with 87% of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers (80% strong­ly sup­port­ive, 7% somewhat).

Every region of the state is like­wise sup­port­ive, even Repub­li­can-ori­ent­ed East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton, where sup­port totals 54%.

The Wash­ing­ton Retail Asso­ci­a­tion regret­tably oppos­es SB 5171 and plans to tes­ti­fy against the bill today. The Wash­ing­ton Food Indus­try Asso­ci­a­tion, which pre­vi­ous­ly signed in against the bill, has signed in as “Oth­er” for today’s House hear­ing. The North­west Gro­cery Asso­ci­a­tion and Wal­greens are also opposed.

Join­ing the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and Lake Wash­ing­ton High stu­dents in sup­port­ing the bill are Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son’s office, the Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Assis­tant Attor­neys Gen­er­al (AWAAG), the Wash­ing­ton State Asso­ci­a­tion for Jus­tice, Planned Par­ent­hood Alliance Advo­cates, Statewide Pover­ty Action Net­work, Hopelink, and the ACLU of Wash­ing­ton State.

Hope­ful­ly, the House will give this sen­si­ble leg­is­la­tion the oppor­tu­ni­ty to be con­sid­ered on the floor and pre­sent­ed to Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee for his sig­na­ture. As far as most vot­ers are con­cerned, SB 5171 ought to be the law of the land already.

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