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The 1950s: 1957

The Legislature Responds

Through Initiative 199, the League of Women Voters and its supporters attempted to force redistricting and remedy the growing urban/rural imbalance in representation throughout Washington. Their actions also had the effect of threatening many incumbent legislators. The Legislature could amend an initiative by a two-thirds vote of both houses, and in 1957 Senate Majority Leader Bob Greive set out to do just that. Despite the tremendous odds against pulling together such a large majority, Greive succeeded in passing an amendment to Initiative 199 that redrew a large percentage of the district boundaries established by the measure.

Some of the initiative's backers construed the action as an example of underhanded political dealings, but many in the Legislature truly thought that their redistricting plan was better than the League's. "We accounted for everybody...we listened to the incumbents," said Senator Greive, who also noted that the legislators had access to more information, including first-hand knowledge of the peculiarities of different districts.

Despite these claims, Governor Albert Rosellini was skeptical and allowed the measure to become law without his signature. Opponents again tried to settle the issue in the courts, arguing that the legislative amendment actually repealed the initiative. The Washington State Supreme Court disagreed and in a December 1957 ruling allowed the Legislature's action to stand.


Oral History
Newspaper Articles
1956 1958