Policy Topics

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.

Andrew Villeneuve

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