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Affirmative action initiative clears committee votes

April 25, 2019

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — An effort to bring back state affirmative action has cleared committee votes in the Washington Legislature.

Initiative 1000 would allow hiring and recruitment goals for minority candidates in state jobs, education, and contracting, loosening restrictions that currently ban preferential treatment.

Lawmakers in Senate and House committees approved the measure in same-day votes Thursday, moving it toward a full vote in each chamber.

I-1000 would allow consideration of factors like race, ethnicity, and disability — but not as sole qualifiers for an otherwise less-qualified applicant.

The idea has exposed deep divides: Advocates characterize under-representation of minorities as the ripple effect of historic discrimination, while opponents say inclusion goals for certain groups inevitably exclude others.

As an initiative to the Legislature, lawmakers have the option to vote I-1000 directly into law; if they don’t it will automatically go on the November ballot. Lawmakers can also draft an alternative to go on the ballot alongside the original.

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