LSC Meeting March 16, 2017The Senate and House continue to consider legislation that would prohibit local government elections that impair the ability of minority groups to have an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. The House has taken the position that third parties should be empowered with a state-based cause of action to enforce compliance (HB 1800), while the Senate bill (SB 5068) simply gives local governments the ability to implement district-based elections in the event their jurisdiction-wide elections are found under a Federal Voting Rights Act action to be disenfranchising minorities.

WSAC has consistently opposed the creation of a new cause of action, but this last week was able to more clearly articulate the challenges these proposals create given counties constitutional foundation. WSAC staff described these issues to the House State Government Committee on Wednesday while testifying on SB 5068. It is our hope that counties are removed from both versions of the bill so that a county-specific solution can be worked out with Legislators.

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Josh Weiss started working in Olympia in 1998 and in addition to spending the last 8 years at WSAC, has served as nonpartisan counsel to the House of Representatives, Legislative Director for the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Environmental Policy Director for the Washington Forest Protection Association representing private forest landowners. Josh is a graduate of Central Washington University and the Vermont Law School, and is a fourth generation Washingtonian.