Taking Action in Olympia - April 16, 2021
Session Week 14
Let’s make our tax code more fair!
We need to rebalance our tax code to make it more fair for low- and middle-income Washingtonians. Washington state has the most upside-down tax system in the nation because families with the least pay the most.
This legislative session, we’re poised to begin making our tax code more fair by passing a tax on capital gains. It would impact just the wealthiest Washingtonians but would raise more money we could use for K-12 education, early learning, and child care, and to advance the paramount duty to amply provide an education to every child in the state.
Take action now to call for the passage of the capital gains tax!
What is concurrence?
When a bill passes in a different form in the opposite chamber than it did in its chamber of origin, legislators must come to agreement on one form of the legislation to send to the governor. This process is called concurrence. Lawmakers have a few options. Each chamber can decide to concur, adopting the opposite chamber’s amendments, or recede and restore the bill to its chamber of origin form. In some situations, the chambers insist on their positions with two different bills. The legislature may choose to appoint legislators to a conference committee to negotiate the differences. Once an agreement is reached and approved by each chamber the bill can be sent to the governor.
What happened this week?
Many of our priorities passed the opposite chamber last weekend in the flurry of last-minute votes before Sunday night’s cut-off. Now that we’re past cut-off for bills that aren’t related to the budget, the legislature is working on resolving differences through the concurrence process. A conference committee has been appointed for budget negotiations.
Fully fund schools
- Capital gains tax – ESSB 5096 -- This bill would create new progressive revenues by imposing an excise tax on the extraordinary profits on long-term capital assets of the wealthiest in Washington State to fund child care, early learning and K-12 programs. WEA members passed new business items in 2020 asking WEA to advocate for more progressive revenues. The House Finance committee passed this bill this morning (Friday).
- Student transportation funding – E2SSB 5128 – The original bill would have amended the basic education pupil transportation funding formula to adjust for the effects of the pandemic. The current funding formula is based on efficiency, not safety. The final amended bill does not include any changes to the funding formula to account for the changes in ridership during the pandemic. The legislature moved this bill on final passage Friday and it now moves to the governor for signature. The House biennial budget proposal includes funding to hold harmless upcoming school years from enrollment declines. The Senate budget proposal includes full funding for the current school year.
- K-12 COVID Levy Safety Net– ESHB 1476 – The early version of this bill would have created an enrollment safety funding formula for school years 2020-21 and 2021-22. The current bill version removed the safety net portions leaving only the changes needed to hold harmless local levy calculations for this period. State funding is needed to restore the lost K-12 revenues as a result of the pandemic. An intent section was added to this bill stating the legislature will provide funding relief as part of their budget this biennium. This bill passed the Senate floor last Saturday.
WEA will continue advocating for a K-12 budget that provides equitable funding and safe learning environments for students and educators. It takes more resources, not less to meet the needs of students during a pandemic, especially for schools in communities that have been historically underfunded.
Improve equity, dismantle racism, meet the needs of all students
- Eliminate the edTPA – 2SHB 1028 – The edTPA is a barrier to creating a more diverse and inclusive educator workforce. It’s a WEA priority to pass this bill to eliminate the edTPA requirement and replace it with rigorous standards for student teachers to demonstrate their skills. Sen. Mullet proposed an amendment that passed in the Senate that would require student teachers take the edTPA but provide pathways in case a student failed the test. This won’t solve the problem and WEA opposes this amendment. The amended bill passed the Senate floor on Saturday. House refused to concur on the Senate amendment and asked the Senate to recede from the amendment. The Senate will most likely take action next week. Read more about its path forward.
- Professional development on equity, cultural competency, and dismantling racism – ESSB 5044 – This is a WEA priority bill that would forward racial equity in our schools by ensuring that every educator has an understanding of equity issues. WEA members testified in favor in the Senate. Members also testified in favor during its House Education committee hearing. It passed on the House floor on Sunday and is now in the Senate for concurrence.
- Close the homework gap by expanding broadband access – SHB 1336 – Would make broadband accessible to more students by allowing public utilities, ports and counties to provide this service directly to families. The bill passed on the House floor on Sunday. Another bill, 2SSB 5383, passed that has conflicting sections with 1336. Lawmakers from the two chambers must negotiate these differences.
- Educator secondary trauma - HB 1363 – Would require school districts to adopt policies and procedures to prevent and address secondary trauma in the K-12 workforce. WEA supports this bill which passed off the Senate floor last Saturday. It has been enrolled and signed in both chambers and will soon be sent to the governor for signature.
- Ensure counselors have time for students – SSB 5030 – Would require that school counselors spend 80% of their time with students, reducing the amount of time on meetings and administration. WEA members testified in favor in the House. WEA supports meeting the need for increased staffing whether in remote, hybrid, or in-person learning models. Students need individual attention for their learning and social-emotional needs in this challenging environment and schools need more staff, not less. The Senate voted to concur in the House amendments on Wednesday and the bill is now ready for the chamber leaders’ and the governor’s signature. Additionally, both budget proposals include additional funding for guidance counselors in high-poverty schools starting in SY 2022-23.
- Diversity and equity training for higher education – E2SSB 5227 – Would establish training for higher education faculty and staff a professional development program on diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. WEA supports. This bill passed on the House floor last Friday and is back in the Senate for concurrence.
- Revise school attendance rules and procedures – ESHB 1113 - Would update school attendance laws to reflect a focus on multi-tiered supports and interventions to better support rather than punish students. WEA supports this bill, which has been passed and signed in both chambers and will soon be sent to the governor.
- Expand working families tax exemption – ESHB 1297 – Would fund and make more Washingtonians eligible for the working families tax exemption in order to balance our state’s upside-down tax code. WEA supports this bill. It was approvedon final passage Thursday. Next, it will be sent to the governor for signature.
- School based health centers -- SHB 1225 – Would allow districts to establish in-school health centers. WEA testified in support. It passed in both chambers and was signed by the Governor today (Friday).
- College in the high school - SHB 1302 – Would allow students who take college-level classes in their high schools to receive college credits. This bill, which WEA supports, has been signed by both chambers and Was signed by the Governor today (Friday).
- Provide menstrual products in schools – ESHB 1273 – Would create a requirement for school districts to provide sanitary napkins and tampons in all female- and gender-neutral-designated restrooms. WEA supports this bill. It passed on the Senate floor last Saturday and on Wednesday the House concurred in the Senate amendments. It now awaits signatures of the chamber leaders followed by the governor’s signature.
- Institutional education programs- E2SHB 1295 – Would provide a plan to improve the educational programing and outcomes for students who are incarcerated. This bill will now be sent to the Governor for his signature. .
- Education access post-incarceration – 2SHB 1044 – Would ease the transition from incarceration to postsecondary education. WEA supports. The House concurred in the Senate amendments on Wednesday and this bill is now ready for the chamber leaders’ and the governor’s signature.
- Learning assistance program funding – SHB 1208 – Would create more flexibility for the learning assistance program funding to better address learning gaps and mental health needs. WEA supports. The House concurred in the Senate amendments on Tuesday. House Speaker Laurie Jenkins has signed it and it now awaits a signature from Senate President Lt. Governor Denny Heck before proceeding for the governor’s signature.
- Eliminate indigenous mascots - HB 1356 – Would prohibit the inappropriate use of Native American names, symbols, or images as public school mascots, logos, or team names. WEA supports. On Monday the House concurred in the Senate amendments. Speaker Jenkins has signed and it awaits a signature from Lt. Governor Heck before proceeding for the governor’s signature.
- Higher ed scholarships – SHB 1425 – Would expand eligibility for scholarships for community and technical college students who are not graduates of WA state high schools and for those who are pursuing an industry-recognized credential. WEA supports this bill. The House voted today (Friday) not to concur in the Senate amendments, so the bill is back in the Senate to see if they will recede from their amendments.
Ensure school safety
- Safe drinking water – E2SHB 1139 – Would direct testing for lead in the drinking water of schools, disclose lead testing levels publicly, and make available technical guidance to help districts reduce lead levels. WEA supports this bill which passed the legislature this week. It now awaits a signature of thegovernor.
Which WEA-supported bills are enrolled and awaiting signatures?
- Behavioral health resource information - SHB 1373 – Would require public schools to publish on their websites contact information for depression, suicide prevention, and other mental health support organizations. WEA supports this bill. The House concurred in the Senate amendments on Monday and Speaker Jenkins signed it on Wednesday. It is awaiting Lt. Gov. Heck’s signature and the governor’s signature.
- Mastery-based learning – SSB 5249 – Would continue a work group to develop a WA state profile describing the cross-disciplinary skills a student should have developed by the time they graduate high school. It has been signed by both chambers and now awaits the governor’s signature.
- Higher ed supports for homeless and foster care students - SHB 1166 – Would expand access to the homeless and foster care college students pilot program. WEA supports. This bill has been signed by both chambers and has been delivered to the governor for signature.
- Eliminating school lunch co-pays -- HB 1342 – Would remove lunch copays for students who qualify for reduced-price lunches in PK-12. WEA members passed a new business item in 2020 to lobby the legislature to make all meals free for K-12 students. WEA supports this bill is expected to be signed by the Governor Friday.
- Foster care point of contact – SB 5184 – Would create a separate point of contact for foster youth in schools. WEA signed in pro at its public hearing. This bill passed both chambers and was delivered to the governor for signature.
- Make Juneteenth a holiday – SHB 1016 -- Would recognize the importance of June 19, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved Americans. Read more about Juneteenth. It has passed both chambers. The leaders in both chambers have signed the bill and it now awaits the governor’s signature.
Which other WEA-supported bills are awaiting concurrence or conference?
- Increase equity and diversity at community and technical colleges – E2SSB 5194 – Would require development of diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plans and implement student success programs. WEA supports. This bill passed the House a week ago but awaits concurrence in the Senate.
What’s new next week?
Sunday, April 25 is the last day allowed for regular session.
In the next nine days, lawmakers will work in the concurrence and conference committee processes to resolve bills that have differences between chambers. Any bills that haven’t been resolved will be considered not passed and dead for this session.
It’s also crunch time for the state budget. Both chambers have passed their versions of the state budget. Fiscal leaders from both chambers are negotiating between the two versions to develop a final budget. Both chambers must pass the final budget, which then heads to the governor for signature. The governor can veto all or parts of the budget but cannot add funding beyond the legislature’s direction.
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