HB 1932: Allowing Even Year Elections for Localities
House Bill 1932 would allow Washington localities to switch their elections to even-numbered years (NPI artwork)

NPI’s pri­or­i­ty leg­is­la­tion to give cities and towns the free­dom to switch their elec­tions to even years has cleared anoth­er key hur­dle in the leg­isla­tive process.

Today, a major­i­ty of the Sen­ate State Gov­ern­ment & Elec­tions Com­mit­tee vot­ed to give HB 1932, prime spon­sored by State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mia Gregerson, a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion, send­ing it on to the Sen­ate Rules Com­mit­tee, where its sib­ling, Sen­ate Bill 5723, has been hiber­nat­ing for more than a year.

HB 1932 would change an old state law dat­ing back to the 1960s that requires munic­i­pal­i­ties to hold their reg­u­lar­ly sched­uled elec­tions in odd-num­bered years. Under our leg­is­la­tion, they would gain the free­dom to switch to even years if they want­ed, but they would­n’t be required to change their timing.

HB 1932 was vot­ed out of the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ear­li­er this month and was heard in the Sen­ate last Fri­day. It need­ed to get a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion at today’s com­mit­tee meet­ing to remain active, because tomor­row is the cut­off for oppo­site cham­ber pol­i­cy bills.

Due to the brevi­ty of the 2024 leg­isla­tive ses­sion, com­mit­tees only had a few days to hear and report out bills from the oppo­site chamber.

The Sen­ate State Gov­ern­ment & Elec­tions Com­mit­tee had to sched­ule an extra com­mit­tee meet­ing last Thurs­day evening just to accom­mo­date all of the House bills per­tain­ing to its area of focus that it want­ed to con­sid­er. Today, its list of bills slat­ed for action in exec­u­tive ses­sion totaled twen­ty-one, includ­ing HB 1932.

Most of the list of twen­ty-one bills were vot­ed out effi­cient­ly, but not HB 1932. Repub­li­cans, evi­dent­ly hop­ing to sink the leg­is­la­tion, engaged in a time-wast­ing exer­cise of try­ing amend it almost a dozen dif­fer­ent ways, forc­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty to rhyth­mi­cal­ly mow down their amendments.

One of those amend­ments, offered by Jeff Wil­son, tried to res­ur­rect Tim Eyman’s now dead push polls, which this orga­ni­za­tion and Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Kud­er­er (who took point in respond­ing to the Repub­li­cans’ pro­pos­als) were respon­si­ble for abol­ish­ing last year in tan­dem with State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Amy Walen.

Anoth­er amend­ment, offered by Phil For­tu­na­to, odd­ly tried to exclude the 31st Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict (which For­tu­na­to rep­re­sents) from the legislation.

Addi­tion­al amend­ments were sourced from the House Repub­li­can cau­cus, which pro­posed a slew of changes to HB 1932 when it was on the House floor.

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty took only one amend­ment, from Kud­er­er, which mod­i­fied the scope of the bill to make it resem­ble Sen­ate Bill 5723, the leg­is­la­tion the com­mit­tee con­sid­ered last year. The bill now only per­tains to cities and towns — school dis­tricts, ports, and oth­er lev­els of local gov­ern­ment are no longer includ­ed in the bill and would not gain the free­dom to choose their own elec­tion timing.

Addi­tion­al­ly, Sen­a­tor Kud­er­er’s amend­ment spec­i­fies that cities and towns wish­ing to switch must do so through a vote of both their gov­ern­ing body and a vote of the peo­ple, rather than just one or the oth­er. Like SB 5723, the bill still allows cities and towns any­where in Wash­ing­ton to switch to even years.

The vote to send HB 1932 on up to Rules was 4–3:

Vot­ing for a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion: Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tors Sam Hunt, Pat­ty Kud­er­er, Javier Valdez, and Bob Hasegawa

Vot­ing for a “do not pass” rec­om­men­da­tion: Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Jeff Wil­son, Phil For­tu­na­to, and Per­ry Dozier

If HB 1932 gets pulled from Rules, select­ed for floor action, and passed either in its cur­rent form or with fur­ther changes, it would then return to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The House could choose to con­cur in the Sen­ate’s amend­ments, or it could ask the Sen­ate to recede from its amendments.

In the event that the Sen­ate chose to recede from its amend­ments, the bill would revert to its pri­or incar­na­tion. If the House vot­ed to accept the Sen­ate amend­ments, the bill would go to Gov­er­nor Inslee. Oth­er­wise, the bill would go to con­fer­ence, allow­ing the two cham­bers to nego­ti­ate a final com­pro­mise version.

NPI thanks Sen­a­tors Hunt, Kud­er­er, Valdez, and Hasegawa for pri­or­i­tiz­ing this impor­tant, much-need­ed leg­is­la­tion. Their vote today gives this bill a chance to be con­sid­ered by the full Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate between now and March 1st.

Fol­low this link to urge your state sen­a­tor to sup­port HB 1932.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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