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Published on Monday, January 29, 2018

Senate’s Voting Rights Act bill being considered in House committee

SB 6002 was heard in the House State Government, Elections & IT Committee last Friday. AWC testified as “other” and stated that the association continues to take an “actively neutral” position on this legislation, reaffirmed by AWC’s board earlier last week. We acknowledged that cities have varying opinions about this issue.

At the hearing, we discussed some of the helpful changes to this legislation that have been made in response to city concerns over previous years’ versions, and we have appreciated the opportunity to provide input. For example, this version of the bill includes authority for cities and other local governments to change their election system to allow district elections at the general election, which is not allowed under current law except for the 10 charter cities. But we noted that the bill limits that authority to addressing only a potential violation under the Act – unequal opportunity by a minority class to nominate or elect a candidate of their choice. However, in circumstances where a city might have other reasons to choose districts, such as to recognize the value of having areas with differing incomes or service needs represented on the council, voluntary change will still be prohibited under the new law as the bill is currently drafted. We also highlighted some of the other concerns, such as the low population threshold, outlined in our updated fact sheet.

AWC is working with SB 6002’s proponents to consider our suggestions. Interested cities are encouraged to contact their legislators with their own views.

Please contact Dave Williams or Shannon McClelland with any questions or concerns.

Categories: General government