WA Democracy Legislation Weekly Newsletter March 7, 2022
Washington State Democracy Legislation
SESSION UPDATE: The legislative session is wrapping up and will end this Thursday, March 10th. Last Friday was the deadline for bills still alive to pass the opposite chamber. Unfortunately, only a few bills passed, which now move to the Governor’s desk for signing. Many of the bills that did not pass this year, will be reintroduced next session in 2023.
We will also be hosting a WA 2022 Legislation Recap at our Democracy Happy Hour this week on March 9th @ 5 pm. Register HERE.
BILLS PASSED (awaiting Governor signature):
SB 5583 – Local redistricting to reflect last known residence for incarcerated persons
Bill Summary: It is the responsibility of each county, municipal corporation, and special purpose district with a governing to periodically adjust census data for local redistricting to reflect the last known place of residence for incarcerated persons.
HB 1769 – Sunsetting Community Councils
Bill Summary: Sunsets the last two community councils in Washington state in Houghton Community Council in Kirkland and East Bellevue Community Council in Bellevue.
Ballot Impact Statements:
HB 1876 – Adds a fiscal impact statement to ballot measures
Bill Summary: This bill would add public investment impact disclosures for certain ballot measures that repeal, levy, or modify any tax or fee and have a fiscal impact showing how adoption of the measure would cause a net change in state revenue.
HB 1630 – Establishing restrictions on the possession of weapons in certain locations.
- Prohibits the knowing open carry and possession of firearms and other prohibited weapons on to or in school areas and areas of facilities while being used for official meetings of a school district board of directors and requires the school district board of directors to post signs at such locations providing notice of the restrictions.
- Prohibits the knowing open carry of firearms and other prohibited weapons while knowingly being in a local government building used in connection with meetings of the governing body of the local government or any location of a public meeting or hearing of the governing body of a local government during the meeting or hearing and requires a local government to post signs at such locations providing notice of the restrictions.
- Prohibits the knowing carry and possession of firearms and other prohibited weapons in election-related offices and facilities and requires election officials to post signs at election-related facilities providing notice of the restrictions.
- Makes violations of these restrictions a misdemeanor for first time offenses while second and subsequent violations are gross.
Campaign Funds for Child Care:
SB 5855 – Concerning the use of campaign funds to reimburse expenses for child care and other caregiving services.
Bill Summary: Authorizes the use of campaign contributions to reimburse candidates for expenses for the direct care, protection, and supervision of a child or person over whom the candidate has direct caregiving responsibility incurred directly due to campaign activities.
Ballot Casting Locations:
HB 1716 – Concerning locations at which ballots may be cast.
- Requires that county auditors open a voting center during a special election only if the county is conducting a special election.
- Requires that county auditors open a voting center, rather than only conduct in-person voter registration, at certain locations.
- Restricts certain political activity near voting centers, student engagement hubs, and ballot drop boxes during the voting period.
BILLS THAT DID NOT PASS THIS SESSION:
Voting Rights Act Enhancements:
SB 5597 – WA Voting Rights Act Enhancements
- Pre-clearance – Codifies factors which establish a presumptive case of vote dilution in violation of the Washington Voting Rights Act (WVRA).
- Establishes a mechanism for claimants who send successful notices of potential WVRA violations to recover costs of up to $50,000 from jurisdictions for research needed to send the notice.
- Requires certain jurisdictions to obtain pre-clearance for changes to covered voting practices.
- Establishes a data repository at the University of Washington to assist jurisdictions and researches in election best practices.
Secure Automatic Voter Registration:
SB 5636 – Expanding and Enhancing Automatic Voter Registration
Bill Summary: Modifies voter registration at the Department of Licensing (DOL) and Health Benefit Exchange to make registration of eligible applicants automatic with the agency transaction unless subsequently declined in writing.
Ranked Choice Voting:
Local Options for Ranked Choice Voting
HB 1156 & SB 5584 – Bill Summary: Permits the use of ranked choice voting (RCV) in elections for offices in counties, cities, towns, school districts, fire districts, and port districts, and establishes certain requirements for RCV ballot design and vote tabulation.
Ranked Choice Voting for Presidential Primaries – 2 bills
HB 1926 & SB 5851 – Bill Summary: The presidential primary shall be conducted using ranked choice voting, unless a party has fielded two or fewer candidates, in which case the presidential primary for that party shall be conducted in substantially the same manner as a state primary under this title.
SB 5560 – Procedures for approval and submission of the redistricting plan
- Redistricting plan must include at least:
- (a) Maps showing the division of the state into congressional and legislative districts; and
- (b) complete descriptions of each district using official census units, such as tracts and blocks, sufficient to codify the plan.
- The redistricting plan must be prepared and published and be made available to the public at the time the plan is submitted to the legislature.
- The commission must make a redistricting plan publicly available at least 72 hours before voting to approve the plan. Once the plan has been made publicly available, any amendments to the plan must be debated and voted on in open session, and at least 24 hours must pass after any amendments are adopted before the commission may vote on final approval of the plan.
SB 5182 – Eliminating Advisory Votes
- Repeals the requirement that advisory votes for tax increase legislation appear on the ballot and voters’ pamphlet.
- Requires that a fiscal impact statement appear in the voters’ pamphlet for legislation passed affecting state revenues.
- Requires that a pie chart showing operating budget expenditures for the most recent biennium appear in the voters’ pamphlet.
Election Officials Protection:
HB 1618 – Prohibiting weapons at election-related offices
- Restricts the carrying and possession of firearms and other specified weapons in certain election offices and facilities.
- Requires posted notice of such restrictions at election offices and facilities.
HB 1727 – Eliminating Odd-Year Elections
Bill Summary: Eliminates odd-year elections in Washington State, including special elections. Includes all state, county, city, town, and district general elections for the election of federal, state, legislative, judicial, county, city, town, and district officers, and for any measure (referendums and ballot initiatives) for adoption and approval or rejection. The benefit and goal is to increase voter participation, as currently odd-year elections have the lowest turnout and decisions are often made by a minority of the voters.
HB 1919 – Public Disclosure Commission Recommendations
- Updates campaign reporting deadlines to ensure voters have weekly access to campaign financing information to match the longer period ballots are available for voting.
- Clarifying for the voter when political ads are endorsing a candidate who is running in a different election or a race other than the current one, and ads that encourage votes for a person who is not a candidate as of the date the ad is run.
Election Officials Protection:
SB 5148 – Concerning the harassment of election officials.
Bill Summary: Elevates the crime of harassment to a Class C felony when the harassment is directed at an election official with the Secretary of State or county auditor’s office.
HB 1910 – Conservation District Elections
Bill Summary: This bill would put all conservation district elections on the regular ballot, all positions will be elected, landownership requirement will be removed, and public disclosure will be required.
Close Lobbying Revolving Door:
SB 5170 – Employment After Public Service in State Government
- Prohibits various state officers and employees from receiving compensation for certain lobbying activities for one year after leaving state service.
- Requires state officers and employees subject to that prohibition to file post-employment disclosure statements.
- Requires display of post-employment disclosure statements on the Executive Ethics Board’s website.
Women’s Suffrage Day:
HB 1485 – Women’s Suffrage Day a Legal Holiday
Bill Summary: Designates March 22 to be a state legal holiday, recognized as Women’s Suffrage Day.
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