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How lawmakers voted in Olympia

Lawmakers focused mainly on committee activity the week of Feb. 1, but both chambers took up a number of bills in floor action. As of Friday early afternoon, the Senate passed more than a dozen bills by unanimous votes, while the House took more sharply divided votes on several issues.

House Bill 1646: Amending and enhancing enforcement of the equal pay act. Passed the House on Feb. 3, 2016 by a vote of 56-41. (One seat currently vacant.)

This bill passed the House previously during the 2015 legislative session, but did not advance in the Senate. It would enact a new Equal Pay Opportunity Act by modifying the existing Equal Pay Act (EPA). It would make providing less favorable employment opportunities based on gender a violation of the EPA for purposes of a civil cause of action. "Less favorable employment opportunities" means assigning or directing an employee into a less favorable career track or position based on gender. Factors to be considered would include failing to use reasonable means to provide information to employees about advancement in their career tracks or positions, including posting information on websites, employee common areas, or at the human resources office. The employer defense would be changed to provide that the differential in compensation or employment opportunities must be based on a bona fide job-related factor, including education, training, or experience that is not based on gender, unless the differential is otherwise permitted by law. The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

40th Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes: Yes

40th Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon: Yes

42nd Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden: No

42nd Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden: No

House Bill 2307: Requiring reasonable accommodations in employment for pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related health conditions. Passed the House on Feb. 4, 2016 by a vote of 52-45. (One seat currently vacant.)

This bill would require employers, under the Washington Law Against Discrimination, to provide reasonable accommodation in employment for pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related health conditions, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on an employer's business. “Reasonable accommodation” means measures that enable the proper performance of the job held or desired and the enjoyment of equal benefits, privileges, or terms and conditions of employment. This includes providing more frequent, longer, or flexible restroom breaks; allowing for time off to recover from childbirth; acquiring or modifying equipment or an employee's work station; providing for a temporary transfer to a less strenuous or less hazardous position; providing assistance with manual labor and modifying work schedules. The bill was referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

40th Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes: Yes

40th Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon: Yes

42nd Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden: No

42nd Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden: No

House Bill 1541: Implementing strategies to close the educational opportunity gap. Passed the House on Feb. 4, 2016 by a vote of 50-47. (One seat currently vacant.)

This bill passed the House twice during the 2015 legislative session, but did not advance in the Senate. It would implement the recommendations of the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability committee, which was established in 2009. Among the committee’s top recommendations in its report to the Legislature in 2015 is a reduction in the length of time students of color are excluded from school due to suspension and expulsion, and providing student support for reengagement plans. The bill would prohibit long-term suspension or expulsion as a form of discretionary discipline, limit all suspension or expulsion to the length of an academic term and require a reengagement meeting that includes the student's family. It would also prohibit districts from suspending the provision of educational services as a form of discretionary action and would require districts to review, and adopt, and train staff on discipline policies and procedures. The bill is now headed for the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.

40th Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes: Yes

40th Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon: Yes

42nd Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden: No

42nd Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden: No

House Bill 1745: Enacting the Washington voting rights act. Passed the House on Feb. 4, 2016 by a vote of 50-47. (One seat currently vacant.)

The bill passed previously in the House during the 2015 session, but did not advance in the Senate. It would create a state voting rights act that protects equal opportunities for minority groups to participate in local elections. The act would create a legal cause of action where local and district elections exhibit polarized voting between voters in a protected class and other voters, and where members of the protected class do not have an equal opportunity to elect their preferred candidate or influence the election. Under the bill, courts could also order appropriate remedies for a violation of the act, including redistricting within a political subdivision. It would also authorize local governments to change their election systems to remedy violations of the act. The bill was referred to the Senate Government Operations and Security Committee.

40th Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes: Yes

40th Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon: Yes

42nd Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden: No

42nd Rep. Luanne Van Werven, R-Lynden: No

WashingtonVotes.org is a project of the Washington Policy Center.

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