Bill limiting campaign contributions in all port races heads to Senate

OLYMPIA—A measure aimed at leveling the playing field for all port races in the state passed the House of Representatives last night on a unanimous vote.

Rep. Sharon Wylie, D-Vancouver, sponsored House Bill 1375 in response to a 2017 Vancouver port district race in which one industry spent over $1 million.

“This legislation makes sure that our port districts follow the same laws as everybody else. Ports are public entities and, as such, they are accountable to the public,” Wylie said. “My bill will ensure that port districts are responding to constituents and not special interest groups.”

Current state law limits campaign contributions from individual donors, businesses, and other organizations for port races that have over 200,000 registered voters in the district.  Of the 75 port districts across the state, only the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma meet that threshold.  Wylie’s bill will impose those same limits – currently $2,000 per election cycle – to all port commissioner races in Washington state by removing the 200,000 voter threshold condition.

“The ports and the public support this bill,” said Wylie. “We all want fairness in port races, and we all recognize the need for transparency and accountability.”

House Bill 1375 now heads to the Senate for further consideration.