OLYMPIA – On Wednesday, February 19, the Washington state House of Representatives passed legislation (House Bill 2575) to bring greater public input, transparency, and accountability to the Washington Redistricting Commission.
“Every ten years our state redistricts political boundaries and the public has the right to know the data the Redistricting Commission used, whether the commission was influenced by lobbyists, and whether the goals of the commission are in the public interest, instead of just a partisan advantage to a political party,” said prime sponsor Rep. Mike Pellicciotti, D-Federal Way.
The legislation would increase transparency by:
- Requiring commissioners to state their goals at the beginning, be trained on the Public Records Act and post all agendas and minutes on the commission’s public website.
- Requiring lobbyists to identify themselves during public comment to disclose if they are representing a special interest before providing oral or written comments to the commission.
The legislation would increase accountability by:
- Ensuring that the report shines light on how decisions were made during the process by providing more information to the public. This includes all public plans discussed, transcripts and video archives of all the meetings and a summary of the data used to create those plans.
- Providing analyses of how well the plans align with measurements of redistricting, such as keeping communities together.
The legislation would increase public input by:
- Allowing virtual public participation and feedback on how potential political boundaries effect their communities and allowing more time for public comment.
- Requiring public meetings in each of Washington’s Congressional Districts to gather more local input by soliciting testimony or information about the local demographics from local community members and elected officials throughout the state.
- Providing meeting and report notices in multiple languages, consistent with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The bill passed 57 to 41 out of the House. It now moves to the Senate for consideration. The 60-day Washington State legislative session will conclude on March 12, 2020.