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Free student meals, fentanyl education, policy committee cutoff next week

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Kyrian MacMichael SB 6208 billboard

While we’re moving many of our priorities forward, a few need a final push before the cutoff this coming Wednesday for bills to pass policy committees.

Testifying to what our students need

In this third week of session, WEA members have testified to the need for:

  • Paraeducator pay (SB 6082 & SB 6123; Davina Diaz, Seattle EA; Jenna Slott, Puyallup ESP)
  • Protecting students’ freedom to learn diverse curricula (HB 2331 & SB 6208; Gavin Downing, Kent EA; Sarah Logan, Camas EA; Justin McKaughan, Olympia EA; Kyrian MacMichael, Olympia EA)
  • Addressing student behavioral challenges (SB 5966;  Katie McGrew, Highline EA; Amy Jones, Snoqualmie Valley EA)
  • Pledge of Allegiance instruction in schools (SB 6205; Alex Hansen, Eatonville EA)
  • Special Education transition services (HB 2130; Marin Marks, Camas EA)

Priority bills making progress

We saw some of our priorities pass out of committee this week, and many of the bills we’ve supported are in good shape as we approach the policy committee cutoff:

  • Increased ESP staffing passed out of committee and is now in Senate Ways & Means (SB 5882)
  • Increasing the Special Education staffing cap (SB 6014) passed out of Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education
  • Expand public-service loan forgiveness to include adjunct faculty (HB 1950) passed off the House floor
  • Holocaust and genocide education passed out of Senate committee (SB 5851)
  • Protecting workers from having to attend forced political or religious meetings (HB 1940) passed out of House Labor & Workplace Standards

Free student meals, fentanyl education, policy committee cutoff next week

This is a weekend of legislative chaos as policy committees scramble to draft amendments and prepare to pass bills before  Wednesday’s cutoff. All weekend we may see last-minute agenda changes and adjustments to bills scheduled for executive action. (If you’re planning to track it, clear your schedule for the next four days!) Bills not “exec’d” out of committee by end of day Wednesday are considered mostly dead for this session; the exception would be if their creative sponsors find a way to make the bill a budget item instead of a bill. Keep in mind that many bills had “companions” – versions in both the House and Senate – and at this point legislators are strategizing around which of the two has the best chance of passing and will let the version in the other chamber die.

  • Free school meals: The bill to expand free school meals to all K-12 students already passed in the House Education Committee and awaits action in the fiscal committee (HB 2058) and now the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education is hearing the companion bill (SB 5964) Monday at 1:30pm. Sign in PRO here.
  • Fentanyl and substance-use education: The bill (SB 5923) passed out of Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education and now has its hearing in Ways & Means on Tuesday at 4:00pm and HB 1956 passed out of the House Education Committee and awaits to be scheduled in Appropriations. Sign in PRO here.

Let us know if you’d like to testify!

Revenue corner: What’s all this about gift cards?

You might have seen coverage of the legislature taking action on gift cards, but what’s not getting attention is how this action could help students. Right now, consumers are sitting on millions in unused gift cards—Starbucks alone claimed $215 million in profit this year from unspent gift cards. Imagine if we could use that unclaimed money for our students instead of letting companies book it as profit! HB 2095/SB 5988 would do that by designating unused gift cards as unclaimed property, but it’s not certain the bills will get voted out of committee before cutoff. Write your legislators in favor of consumer protections for gift cards.

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