Lots of recent criticisms against President Trump is that he supports discrimination against country of origin, race, sex. People pushing for Initiative 1000 (I-1000) are trying to bring back discrimination that has been banned since 1998 in Washington state. Which side are those people on?
In 1998, voters passed Washington State Civil Rights Initiative, i.e. Initiative 200 (I-200), by nearly 59% of votes. I-200 bans discrimination and preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin at government institutions. I-1000 narrowly redefines preferential treatment in order to bring back discrimination under the name of remedying discrimination.
People behind I-1000 want to repeal I-200 by misleading voters. They label I-200 as anti-affirmative action. The truth is I-200 does not end all affirmative action programs. It does not end outreach programs, it does not end affirmative action based on helping people who are lower income or economically disadvantaged. It states on I-200 ballot “I-200 prohibits only those programs that use race or gender to select a less qualified applicant over a more deserving applicant for public job, contract or admission to a state college or university.” Attorney General’s Office issued opinion in 2017 and said “Initiative 200 does not categorically prohibit all uses of race- or sex-conscious measures in state contracting. The measure allows the use of measures that take race or gender into account in state contracting without elevating a less qualified contractor over a more qualified contractor.”
Proponents of I-1000 claim that since the passage of I-200, “Higher Education Institutions in Washington have seen decreased diversity in student population”. However, the most recent data from National Center for Education Statistics are showing that, among total postsecondary student population in Washington in 2016, 62.9% was White, 13.0% was Hispanic, 10.1% was Asian, 4.8% was Black. During that time, 69.7% of the state’s general population was White, 12.6% was Hispanic, 8.0% was Asian, 3.6% was Black (source: Office of Financial Management ). Seattle Times also recently reported that UW campus in Bothell was “among the highest in the U.S. for its student body that demographically reflects the state’s share of black young adults” and “The UW campuses in Seattle and Tacoma also earned high nods for black student enrollment”. Data speak! I-200 bans discrimination in college admission, and promotes diversity at state colleges.
Proponents of I-1000 also claim that “since I-200 became law, businesses owned by women and minorities have lost billions of dollars in work they would otherwise have been awarded”. Problem with that statement is that prior to I-200 became law, preferential treatments were granted to women and minority owned businesses. Examples of those preferential treatments are “adding points or other price preference for meeting Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) goals in the award of a contract” or “awarding a contract to a bidder, other than the lowest bidder, because they have met MWBE goals “. One could argue that those “would otherwise have been awarded” dollars should indeed not be awarded under the principle that all should be treated equally. Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE) issued A Compilation of Data on the Economic Impact of Minority Businesses as a result of I-200 report. One interesting observation from the report is that “current” percentage of OMWBE certified Asian American firms increased from 15% in 1997, the year before I-200 was passed, to 25.8%, Black American firms declined from 15.6% to 12.2%, Hispanic firms increased from 9.2% to 9.7%, and White Women firms declined from 54.3% to 46.6%. Why percentage of certified Asian American and Hispanic firms increased after I-200 became law? Did preferential treatment hurt some minority firms? Only fair and equal treatment for all can truly banish discrimination.
In 1998, the people of Washington made clear they wanted the state to reaffirm the fundamental principle of equal treatment for all citizens before the law. Let’s honor majority of voters’ choice, and reject the falsely claimed Initiative 1000.