2.8.17

Suggested lead:   This could be the year the Washington Voting Rights Act finally becomes law.  Dan Frizzell has that story.

Wrap (:90 total):  It's a relatively simple bill, as laws go.  The Washington Voting Rights Act is intended to level the electoral playing field in cities, counties, and various districts where a substantial minority community is effectively left voiceless because of the way voting boundaries are drawn.  Under federal law, voters who feel they're being shut out can sue in federal courts, but the legal expense and time investment involved on both sides can leave citizens and governments near bankruptcy.  Representative Mia Gregerson, the SeaTac Democrat and prime sponsor of the bill, says it's written in such a way as to make elections more fair, and at the same time discourage lawsuits altogether by giving local governments a chance to revamp their elections on their own.  And when worse comes to worst, the bill makes it possible to go through state courts when necessary, at a huge savings over a federal lawsuit.  It sounds like a no-brainer, Gregerson says, but it's a rock that lawmakers have been pushing uphill for a long time.

GREGERSON:  "Eight years.  And what it's job is to do is to protect communities, counties, cities, school districts, from being sued for having unequal representation at their elected level." [:13]

Last year the House passed the Voting Rights Act on a party line vote, with Democrats in the yes column and Republicans voting no.  This year's version had a hearing in the House Committee on State Government Wednesday afternoon and barring surprises it could reach the House floor, again, within a week or so.  In Olympia, Iím Dan Frizzell.

 

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