Lovick bill to reduce political polarization and extremism passes House

OLYMPIA – Legislation passed in the House today would establish a bipartisan, bicameral committee helmed by the lieutenant governor tasked with determining policy solutions to increasing political polarization and extremism in Washington state.

“We’ve come together to address public health and mental health. Now, we must do the same for civic health,” said Sen. John Lovick (D-Everett), prime sponsor of SCR 8414. “Three years before the Civil War, President Lincoln famously said that ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand.’ It was true then, and it’s true now, but we don’t have to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can choose civility and understanding.”

The committee plans to build on the work undertaken by the Project for Civic Health, an initiative headed by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor that brought together the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Government, and the William D. Ruckelshaus Center to collaborate on a report outlining steps that could be taken to improve civic health in Washington state.

“Let me share some unfortunate statistics,” said Lovick. “93% of Americans are concerned by incivility in this country; 89% of Washingtonians fear for the future of democracy. Almost a quarter of Washingtonians have lost friends or family members because of politics. Our communities and our families are suffering. In the words of James Baldwin, ‘No problem can be solved until it is faced.’”

The committee would be composed of thirteen members: the lieutenant governor, along with three members of each party from the Senate and House, chosen by the president of the Senate and speaker of the House, respectively.

Having been amended in the House, the bill now heads to the Senate for concurrence.