Bills to Strengthen Voting Initiatives and Phase Out Odd-Year Elections Go Ahead :: NPI’s Cascadia Advocate

Two of the Northwest Progressive Institute’s priority bills for Washington State’s 2022 legislative session today earned a “do not” recommendation in their originating committee, meaning each will survive the first cut. of the session.

House Bills 1727 and 1876, both sponsored by Rep. Mia Gregerson, received majority supporting votes from the House State Government Committee this morning in executive session, with all four Democrats voting yes and the three Republicans voting no.

HB 1727 would phase out most elections in odd-numbered years in Washington State, addressing the problem of voter fatigue, saving resources, and dramatically increasing voter turnout in local elections. NPI research shows that a majority of Washington voters support the change, while only about a quarter oppose it.

HB 1876 would improve initiative ballot titles by requiring that anticipated tax impacts be disclosed to voters before “Yes” or “No” ovals appear on the ballot, but after the concise description that the law currently provides.

NPI Legislative Director Kathy Sakahara and I testified in support of these bills last week at their public hearings.

The roll call on each bill was the same:

Vote for a “do pass” recommendation: Democratic representatives Javier Valdez (president), Debra Lekanoff (vice-president), Laurie Dolan, Mia Gregerson

Vote for a “do not pass” recommendation: Republican Representatives Mike Volz, Jenny Graham, Jim Walsh

Following a “do pass” recommendation, each bill will survive the original Feb. 3 deadline for policy bills and move on to the Rules Committee. Whether either bill gets further scrutiny will depend on the leadership of the House (led by Speaker Laurie Jinkins and Majority Leader Pat Sullivan). The bills will have to survive the original chamber cutoff later in February to stay alive for consideration by the Washington State Senate.

Regular sessions in even years of the Legislative Assembly last only sixty days. The session must adjourn Sine Die in accordance with the Washington State Constitution no later than March 10, 2022.

While Democratic legislative leaders have said they want to focus on COVID relief, tweak police reform bills passed last year and pass a set of supplementary budgets, they have an opportunity to decisively to make our state’s elections fairer, and they should make the most of that opportunity.

NPI thanks Reps. Valdez, Lekanoff, Dolan, and Gregerson for their leadership in moving these beneficial bills past the first deadline.

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