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Lantz supports bill that targets I-200
With its passage in 1998, Initiative 200 made racial consideration and preference in public sector hiring, contracting and college admission a thing of the past. One of South Kitsaps representatives however, is backing a bill that would repeal at least a portion of the initiative.
Rep. Pat Lantz (D-26th District) earlier this month agreed to co-sponsor House Bill 1586, which would permit a college or university to maintain a diverse student population by considering race, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the admission and transfer process without using quotas, predetermined points, or set asides.
I want to live in a just society, Lantz said. It has to do with my basic core values.
According to the Kitsap County Auditors Office, 60.31 percent of Kitsap County voters were in favor of I-200 when it appeared on the ballot in 1998. In Lantzs 26th District, the margin of victory was even greater, as the measure passed 63 percent to 36 percent.
I dont think they stopped to think of it as Im describing it, Lantz said. It isnt like making retribution for past sins, but Im acknowledging the disparity that exists in our society.
HB-1586 was authored by King County Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez-Kenney (D-46th District) and signed by 17 House members in addition to Lantz.
Lantzs colleague in the 26th District, Rep. Derek Kilmer, was not a co-sponsor.
Lantz stresses that the bill prohibits quotas a system by which universities and companies set aside a predetermined number of admission or hiring slots for people of color.
I dont for one minute want people to assume that (people of color) are of inferior quality, Lantz said.
Asked whether she believed people of color could gain admission to state universities without any assistance that took into account the color of their skin, Lantz said no.
I dont think so, she said.
According to Lantz, non-whites live on a different plain and are subjected to prejudices the population might not even be aware of.
It has to do with the way we move through our different strata, Lantz said.
Lantz claimed Washington colleges have become less diverse since the advent of I-200, however according to data collected by the University of Washington (UW), diversity has actually increased since 1998.
In Washington states largest public university, the number of blacks enrolled in undergraduate courses at the UW rose 5.5 percent between 1998 and 2002. The number of Asians rose 6.3 percent. The number of Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders rose 6 percent and the number of international students rose 5.6 percent.
The number of blacks enrolled in graduate study rose 21.2 percent between 1998 and 2002. The number of Asians rose 5.5 percent. The number of Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders rose 71.4 percent and the number of Hispanics and Latinos rose 12.3 percent.
I have not yet read Rep. Lantzs bill, said the Kitsap County Republican Central Committee Chair Matt Cleverley. (But) in general, the Kitsap County Republican Party opposes anything that would give racial preference to anyone, whether it was affirmative action or something else entirely.
All people should be treated equally, Cleverley said. Any bill that does not treat people equally should be suspect.
For more information or to track HB-1586, visit www.leg.wa.us.