This Week in Olympia
Week of April 15
As you’ll read below, we still need people to keep pushing for local levy flexibility to keep the pressure on legislators.
And heads up – we’ll be encouraging a legislative “action of the day” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday next week to as the session nears the finish line. Watch OurVoice to know the message of they day, or join the “OurVoice” text service by texting “OurVoice” to 41411. We’ll be asking delegates at the WEA Representative Assembly in Spokane to take these actions too.
- Thursday: Post to social media
- Friday: Call the legislative hotline
- Saturday: Email your legislators
With just over a week to go, we are seeing lots of bills moving. Below are priority bills we’ve been following all session.
Bills sent to the Governor’s office
These bills passed both the House and the Senate and await the Governor’s signature.
ESHB 1355 creates staffing standards and ratios for counselors in community and technical colleges.
SHB 1621 removes the requirement that potential teachers pass a basic skills test before entering their teacher prep college program.
SHB 1734 requires accreditation standards for college in high school programs.
SSB 5689 provides anti-harassment protections for transgender students and for teachers using age appropriate LGBTQ curriculum directly tied to their content area.
ESHB 1130 (SB 5606) promotes language access in public schools.
SHB 1575 strengthens collective bargaining and other union rights.
2SHB 1311 allows ninth grade students to sign-up for the college bound scholarship.
SHB 1658 concerns paraeducator training and certification. This policy bill offers districts more flexibility as to when the required four days of training must be offered beginning in the 2019-20 school year.
SHB 5023 provides for ethnic studies classes to be developed.
Bills awaiting concurrence by the original chamber
These bills have been passed with amendments by either the House or the Senate and need to be re-approved before they can move to the Governor for signature.
HB 1139 expands current and future educator workforce supply, including provisions that would allow retirees to return to work without harming their pension.
2SHB 1216 promotes non-firearm measures to increase school safety.
E2SHB 1599 defines multiple pathways for graduation, including a provision that delinks graduation from standardized test results.
2SSB 5082 creates a committee to promote and expand social emotional learning.
SB 5360 sets Plan 2 in TRS, SERS, and PERS as the default pension plan for new hires who do not make an active choice of their retirement plan.
Other bills pending, depending upon budget negotiations
House and Senate negotiators continue to work on a final budget and are hoping to finish by the April 28 session deadline. While no one knows yet what will be in the final deal, we are hearing that both chambers seek to add funds for special education, paraeducator training, and higher education. Both are also trying to negotiate a deal to restore local levy flexibility. There are a lot of moving pieces, with just over a week until the final bell rings...or we face go into special session. Local levies are a major sticking point - so keep encouraging your legislators to provide local levy flexibility and local control before they leave Olympia.
These bills did not survive fiscal cut-off, but it is possible the legislature could deem them necessary to implement the budget.
E2SSB 5091 funds special education.
E2SSB 5393 (1340) eliminates the waitlist for college students eligible for the state need grant.
HB 1390, increases the Plan 1 COLA. It is waiting to be scheduled for a floor vote. Because this bill is funded in the House budget, it could still move.
SHB 2140 the House levy bill that restores local levy flexibility by allowing districts the choice to move back to the well-known percentage-based levy model or stay with a per pupil limit of $3,000.
HB 2158 a higher education funding bill moved out of the House Finance committee and into Appropriations.
2SSB 5313 the Senate levy bill, which WEA members opposed with great force after an amendment was added that would cut teacher pay and restrict bargaining rights in the middle of the night. It is possible the Senate may vote on a different version of this specific bill.
In addition to these fiscal bills, SEBB (educator health care) funding continues to be a significant issue for the budget writers. Both the Senate and House funded the SEBB benefits as bargained, but the Senate method would require additional money next year. Senator Mullet prime sponsored a bill to eliminate all K-12 employee bargaining rights for basic benefits at the state and local level by eliminating SEBB, placing K-12 employees into PEBB, and giving K-12 employees no voice in state collective bargaining. Mullet’s bill also would increase costs for part-time workers. This bill is unlikely to go anywhere except on Mullet’s wall of shame.
Next Week in Olympia
We will publish "This Week in Olympia" on Thursday next week, due to the WEA annual Representative Assembly.