(360) 786-7642|Sam.Hunt@leg.wa.gov

Monthly Archives: March 2019

Governor to take action on Access to Democracy bills

March 12th, 2019|

OLYMPIA —Gov. Jay Inslee will take action Thursday beginning at 3:30 p.m. on two Access to Democracy bills introduced this legislative session.

ESSB 5079 will allow Native American voters living on reservations to use a tribal identification card to register to vote online, and to use addresses of designated tribal buildings for registration. The bill also requires the state to support locations tribes designate as most appropriate for ballot drop boxes and voter registration support.

“Our democracy works best when we all have the opportunity to participate,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. John McCoy (D-Tulalip). “When entire communities are denied access to the ballot box, lawmakers need to take a look at systemic issues that need to be addressed.”

ESB 5273 moves the date of Washington’s presidential primary to the second Tuesday in March, aligning it with nearly two dozen states across the country that are expected to hold primaries or caucuses by that date. Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) is the bill’s sponsor.

“The earlier date will make the presidential primary more meaningful in our state and will increase participation,” said Hunt. “It also will enable the major political parties to use primary election results instead of caucuses to allocate Washington’s national convention votes to presidential and vice presidential candidates.”

The bill will also increase accessibility by providing for the replacement of caucuses with vote-by-mail primary elections.

The bill signings will be held in the Governor’s Conference Room at 416 Sid Snyder Ave. SW, Suite 200, Olympia, WA 98504

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    Senate passes legislation granting collective bargaining rights to assistant AGs

Senate passes legislation granting collective bargaining rights to assistant AGs

March 5th, 2019|

OLYMPIA — The Senate passed legislation today to allow assistant attorneys general to elect to collectively bargain under the Personnel System Reform Act.

SB 5297 is sponsored by Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) in response to concerns from the Attorney General’s office about high turnover among attorneys.

“This is the state’s largest law firm, with over 600 attorneys,” said Hunt. “Like most other state employees, rank-and-file attorneys should be allowed to collectively bargain.”

Assistant attorneys general are tasked with protecting the most vulnerable communities in the state on issues such as civil rights, consumer protection, and public safety. The agency also defends the state against tort claims. 

By giving our top attorneys a choice to have a voice in their working conditions, Hunt’s bill seeks to ensure their retention to better serve the interests of the people of Washington. It grants assistant attorneys general the right to collectively bargain but would not require them to do so.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

  • Joan Benoit Photo Courtesy of Washington State Archive
    Permalink Joan Benoit Photo Courtesy of Washington State ArchiveGallery

    Senate approves renaming Marathon Park to honor Joan Benoit Samuelson

Senate approves renaming Marathon Park to honor Joan Benoit Samuelson

March 5th, 2019|

OLYMPIA — A resolution passed by the Senate today would rename Olympia’s Marathon Park in honor of athlete Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Benoit Samuelson won the first women’s Olympic marathon trials in Olympia in 1984, with the race’s start and finish lines at Marathon Park. She went on to win the first women’s Olympic marathon gold medal in Los Angeles that same year, upsetting the favorite to win gold, Grete Waitz of Norway.

The resolution to change the park’s name to Joan Benoit Samuelson Marathon Park was introduced by Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) and directs the Department of Enterprise Services to update signs to reflect the change.

“This change commemorates the milestone in sports history that happened right here on the shores of Capitol Lake,” said Hunt. “We want to honor Joan Benoit Samuelson as well as the event, and encourage girls and women to engage in sports.”

It is anticipated that Joan Benoit Samuelson will be in Olympia in mid-May to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the race.  “It will be a fitting honor to see the park named after her,” said Hunt.

The resolution now moves to the House for consideration.

Hunt’s presidential primary bill passes full Legislature

March 5th, 2019|

OLYMPIA — A measure to make Washington’s presidential primary process more accessible and relevant—and to end reliance on precinct caucuses—passed out of the state House yesterday on a 54-42 vote.

Senate Bill 5273, sponsored by Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), would move Washington’s presidential primary to the second Tuesday in March, bringing it in line with nearly two dozen states across the country that are expected to hold primaries or caucuses by that date.

The current date for Washington’s primary, the fourth Tuesday in May, was so late that the state had no meaningful impact as nominees had effectively already been determined. This bill ensures that both major political parties in Washington state will have a voice in the nominating process and that their decisions will help dictate their party’s presidential nominee. 

“The earlier date will make the presidential primary more meaningful in our state and will increase participation,” Hunt said. “It also will enable the major political parties to use primary election results instead of caucuses to allocate Washington’s national convention votes to presidential and vice presidential candidates.”

In 2016, voter participation rates were three times higher in states with presidential primaries than in those with caucuses. The change will ease participation among voters who have non-traditional work schedules, lack childcare, or cannot commit to spending hours on a weekend in caucus. The bill allows voters to express their preferences through the state’s vote-by-mail system, as they do in all other elections, effectively ending the use of caucuses to choose presidential candidates.

“The presidential primary is part of the national presidential nominating process.  For the primary to be part of Washington state’s delegate selection process, it must be consistent with nominating rules established by the national political parties. The states are not free to enact whatever primary they want.  The parties require that only ballots from voters who identify with that party may be considered as valid,” said Hunt. As to allowing voters to cast an unaffiliated vote that would not be part of the process, he said, “it’s not participation if your vote does not count.  We want to work for high voter participation, but we also want to have a meaningful presidential primary where peoples’ votes count.  This bill accomplishes that.”

SB 5273 passed in the Senate on Jan. 30 on a 29-18 vote.          

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For information: Nicole Herrera, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7050