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House backs net neutrality in Washington

The entrance to the Federal Communications Commission building in Washington, D.C. Washington state voted overwhelmingly to protect net neutrality, no matter what happens on a national level. (Andrew Harnik / AP)
The entrance to the Federal Communications Commission building in Washington, D.C. Washington state voted overwhelmingly to protect net neutrality, no matter what happens on a national level. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

OLYMPIA – Washington should keep equal access to the internet even if the federal government won’t, the House decided Friday.

With an overwhelming 93-5 vote, the House passed a state version of “net neutrality,” designed to ensure that internet service providers don’t treat some businesses or customers differently, with either higher fees or slower speeds. The Federal Communications Commission recently removed regulations that required such equal treatment nationally.

Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, urged lawmakers to keep the protections in place in Washington, even after it goes away on the national level. Although some people have argued the FCC’s rules will pre-empt any attempt by the state, Hansen argued Washington has broad consumer protection laws on which it can rely.

“We built it. It belongs to us,” Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, said in summing up support for the bill.

The bill, which had more than 50 co-sponsors, was sent to the Senate for further consideration. Among Spokane area representatives, Republicans Jeff Holy, Joel Kretz, Jacquelin Maycumber, Bob McCaslin, Joe Schmick, Matt Shea, Mike Volz and Democrats Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli voted yes; Republican Mary Dye voted no.