OLYMPIA -- A proposal to place the same limits on campaign contributions to school board candidates that apply to legislators and other city and county candidates passed the House overwhelmingly Friday.
But not before some grousing by a few Republicans who thought the Legislature has better things to do.
Rep. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said HB 2210 puts a limit of $800 on contributions to school board candidates. While most contributions are far less, in a few instances last year they were much more. One of them was in his district, Billig added.
"These limits, they give confidence to voters, they reduce the opportunity for corruption and undue influence of large donations," said Billig, the bill's prime sponsor.
That was a reference to last year's Spokane District 81 School Board race, in which Duane Alton, a retired tire dealer and longtime Republican activist, gave unsuccessful board candidate Sally Fullmer $6,350, which was almost half of all the money she raised.
House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, accused Billig and other Democrats of proposing a "cookie cutter solution" -- and even worse a Seattle solution.
"We have Seattle pushing its rules on the rest of Washington," DeBolt complained. Seattle can limit their contributions and "gum up their works."
"If Seattle thinks they need to limit their contributions or add a dollar in their electric bill to pay for things like elections, then they can do that," he added. The bill would make schools "go through more costs...when we're in a time when we can't even fully fund education, then I think that's absurd and that's exactly what's wrong with this place."
(Note: There's really nothing in the bill that calls for adding a fee to electric bills to pay for elections, or placing the cost of elections or tracking contributions on schools.)
Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, countered with a "clarification" that the district Billig was talking about was in Eastern Washington.
The bill passed 71-24. You can see the entire debate in the video above.