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House OKs equal pay measure on strong bipartisan vote

After 69-28 vote, WSLC-supported legislation now heads to the Senate


OLYMPIA (Jan. 18, 2018) — After active negotiations between the business and labor communities, the state House of Representatives passed the Equal Pay Opportunity Act (HB 1506) on a 69-28 vote Wednesday. This is the fourth straight year that the House sends a version of this bill to the Senate.

“At a juncture in time, when we have removed the shroud of silence on sexual harassment, so must we eliminate the secrecy around wages,” said Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island) the bill’s prime sponsor, during the floor debate. Here are her full comments:


“The data are clear. Pay disparities between women and men are systemic and persistent,” said Lynne Dodson, Secretary Treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, in her testimony before the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee last week. “(The legislation is) long overdue, should be passed and moved swiftly into law.”

“Anything we can do to make our state more attractive, especially to women in tech, is imperative for our state economy to continue growing,” said Michael Schutzler, Executive Director of Washington Technology Industry Association. “This legislation codifies a reasonable standard for society.  It also sends a signal to the world that Washington is the place to work in tech.”

HB 1506 updates, for the first time since its passage in 1943, the Washington State Equal Pay Act by:

► Prohibiting employers from imposing pay secrecy policies;
► Ensuring accessibility for low- and high-income employees, and small and large businesses, to remedies through administrative and civil pathways; and
► Preventing discrimination by gender in providing career advancements opportunities.

Several Republican-sponsored amendments to HB 1506 were rejected on party-line votes, including an amendment to preempt cities from enacting their own equal pay policies with standards that exceed those established by the state. But even after those amendments were rejected, more than a dozen Republicans joined all Democratic representatives in voting “yes.”

Rep. Gina McCabe (R-Goldendale), one of those “yes” votes, said state legislators have a responsibility to the next generation to help them “become strong, confident adults who believe in fairness.”

According to the American Association of University Women’s Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap Report, updated in the fall of 2017, at the rate of change between 1960 and 2016 women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059. But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2119.

Here is the roll call for Wednesday’s vote:

2SHB 1506 — Workplaces/gender pay equity (Final Passage, 1/17/2018)

Yeas: 69 Nays: 28 Excused: 1  — Democrats are listed in bold.

Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Bergquist, Blake, Caldier, Chapman, Chopp, Clibborn, Cody, Doglio, Dolan, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Graves, Gregerson, Griffey, Haler, Hansen, Harris, Hayes, Hudgins, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kilduff, Kirby, Kloba, Kraft, Lovick, Lytton, MacEwen, Macri, McBride, McCabe, McDonald, Morris, Muri, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rodne, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Sells, Senn, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stambaugh, Stanford, Steele, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Tharinger, Valdez, Walsh, Wylie, Young

Voting Nay: Representatives Barkis, Buys, Chandler, Condotta, DeBolt, Dent, Dye, Hargrove, Harmsworth, Holy, Irwin, Jenkin, Klippert, Kretz, Kristiansen, Manweller, Maycumber, McCaslin, Orcutt, Pike, Schmick, Shea, Stokesbary, Taylor, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Wilcox

Excused: Representative Nealey

HB 1506 now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

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