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Taking Action in Olympia, Session Week 3

Last week for bills to head to the floor

The beauty of a short session is it goes fast, but that means we need to act urgently to make our voices heard. Next week will be the fourth week of session, when “policy cutoff” occurs. This cutoff is the deadline for the House and Senate to consider bills introduced by their members, after next week they can only consider policy bills from the opposing chamber. We’re expecting a flurry of last-minute action as always. Stay tuned for possible urgent actions on key priorities like mental health supports and COLAs this week.

Take action! Coming up this week… 

  • Custodians and building maintenance staff, tell lawmakers about your job! Fill out the survey here. Ergonomic protections (HB 1837) passed the House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards on Wednesday and needs your voice to keep moving.
  • Provide the mental health supports our students need. Bills which will fund more nurses, counselors, social workers, and psychologists have already passed the education committees.  They will be heard the Senate Committee on Ways & Means on Monday, and in House Appropriations on Tuesday. (See HB 1664 and SB 5595 for more information.)
  • Make effective, inclusive antidiscrimination policies in higher ed. The Senate Law and Justice Committee will hear SB 5877 Monday, which would include disability and sex in nondiscrimination statements.
  • Make higher education more accessible. Legislation (HB 1659 and  HB 1835) is being heard in House Appropriations on Monday that will help students close the gap between the cost of higher ed and financial aid and create outreach initiatives to increase college enrollment.

Here’s how to testify on these bills.

Caucus 2 Caucus Lobby Days Amplify Educator of Color and LGBTQ+ Educator Voices

WEA members across Washington are working hard to create an inclusive education system that meets the needs of all our students and embraces their heritage and culture. During our second annual Caucus 2 Caucus Lobby Day, educators of color and LGBTQIA+ educators connected with legislative caucus members to lift up what our communities need.

A week of lobbying connecting caucus members directly to legislators culminated with an uplifting, celebratory virtual reception.

“When we held this event last year, we heard from legislators how powerful it was to be able to discuss how students and educators of color, and LGBTQIA+ students and educators have needs that are going unaddressed by our public school system in Washington,” said WEA Vice President Janie White. “WEA is committed ensuring public education prepares all students in Washington for success, and we are excited to continue this work with legislators to help them identify ways we can achieve this goal.”

C2C step team 2The event featured Emmy-winning poet Christian Paige and comments by Olympia twelfth grader and Cowlitz Tribe member Ella Sherin. Mukilteo’s Mariner High School Step Team performed by video. And keynote speaker 2022 Teacher of the Year Jerad Koepp shared his experience of advocating for Native American curriculum inclusion.

“You see disparities every day and you have led the work,” said Senator Mona Das, addressing WEA caucus members. “You know the tools are here to dismantle injustice and create a system where all students can succeed. Thank you for your work and bold leadership.”

Washington Cares long-term care insurance program delayed until July 2023

This week, Governor Inslee signed the bill to delay the Long Term Care Insurance program (WA Cares). The new law postponed the collection of premiums until July 2023 and refunds anyone who began paying premiums as a paycheck deduction starting January 1, 2022. The law also expanded partial benefits to those who pay in but do not fully meet the vesting requirement.

Strong opposition to bill that would ban educator anti-racism professional development

We made our voices heard, and the House Education committee announced 872 people signed in against HB1807, the bill that could have made optional cultural competency training for educators. This is more than three times the number of people who signed in pro. The committee has not scheduled an executive session to vote on the bill.

Tracking our priorities

Retiree COLAs (HB 1721 and SB 5676) have passed fiscal committees in both the House and Senate and await floor scheduling. The bill to allow more Plan 2 members to join PEBB (HB 1911) and the bill to allow retirees to work more hours (HB 1699) both passed House Appropriations on Wednesday.

The resolution to allow bond levies to pass with 50% support (HJR 4200), the bill to expand student loan forgiveness for nurse educators (HB 2007), and the bill to create a pandemic leave pool (﷟HB 1992) are all scheduled for committee executive session votes next week.

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