SB 5533 would eliminate the conflict of interest of the governor negotiating in secret with his own campaign donors

Feb 14, 2017

Download file Download the full legislative memo here

This infographic appeared as an ad in The Seattle Times, The Olympian, and The Spokesman Review. 

This issue keeps evolving, and WPC Director for the Center for Small Business & Labor Reform, Erin Shannon, will keep you up to date on all things relating to SB5533. Her latest blog, "The insurance commissioner and insurance companies can't do it. Why can state employee unions and the governor?", can be read here

Erin Shannon wrote an op-ed on this issue, which ran in The Olympian. It can be read here

Key Findings

1. SB 5533 would promote honest and open government by ending the practice of governors negotiating public spending in secret with the union executives who helped elect them.

2.  Currently, the governor’s collective bargaining negotiations are exempt from the Open Public Meetings Act, meaning they take place behind closed doors.

3. While holding secret meetings on public spending, union executives give political money to support the governor’s campaign.

4. In 2016, state employee unions gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the governor’s re-election.

5. To uphold public trust, insurance companies that do business in the state are not allowed to give political money to candidates for state Insurance Commissioner.

6.  Enacting a similar limit on political giving to the governor, as proposed by SB 5533, would end the perception that unions could be rewarded for their political support of the governor.

7. SB 5533 would restore public confidence in the honesty of state government, and in the moral integrity of the governor’s office.


This Legislative Memo provides an overview and analysis of SB 5533.  The bill would prohibit contributions to gubernatorial candidates from labor unions that collectively bargain with the state.  The purpose of the bill is to promote honest and open government by ending the practice of governors negotiating state employee contracts with the state employee unions who helped elect them.

The companion bill to SB 5533 in the House is HB 1891.

These bills reflect a long-standing Washington Policy Center recommendation that more transparency and accountability be injected into the collective bargaining process.