Thursday, March 5, 2015
Washington Voting Rights Act Passes House
OLYMPIA – The House of Representatives approved the Washington Voting Rights Act today with bipartisan support. The bill, sponsored by Representative Luis Moscoso (D-Mountlake Terrace), would help ensure fair and equitable elections without the need for federal intervention.
“I believe that, just like 50 years ago, it is time for us to make history today,” said Moscoso. “All Washingtonians must have the opportunity to participate in local decisions.”
The legislation would provide a solution that circumvents the lengthy and burdensome federal process that the City of Yakima recently underwent. Under the Washington Voting Rights Act, parties would be required to seek a collaborative solution before pursuing litigation. Local governments that enact meaningful change would receive a four year safe harbor.
“The Washington Voting Rights Act will create local solutions to local problems and avoid unnecessary, expensive federal lawsuits,” said Rep. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), Chair of the State Government Committee where the bill was heard. “It is about reducing federal intrusion in local issues. The Washington Voting Rights Act gives tools to local governments and communities to work out their disputes where they are best resolved—at home.”
In the event they cannot reach an agreement, the case would go through a less expensive and time-consuming state court. This would help minimize costs for local jurisdictions while providing a quicker resolution for communities who are not being represented in their current electoral system.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where proponents will look to build on its successful passage from the Senate Government Operations committee last session.
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