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This Week in Olympia

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Week of April 22 

(We are publishing early this week, due to WEA's 2019 Representative Assembly in Spokane. Things have started moving in Olympia, so we will update this if significant changes occur.) 

Take Action!

It’s going to come down to the wire. Legislators still need to hear from us to restore levy flexibility. Session is scheduled to end by midnight on Sunday.

WEA member and State Representative Monica Stonier tells us that when WEA members contact legislators, it makes a difference. That’s why we are asking you to join the 1,200 WEA members who are attending the WEA Representative Assembly in Spokane to participate in the following actions-of-the-day.

Friday: Call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message telling legislators to pass a clean bill to restore local levy flexibility. Here’s a sample message:

Hi (legislator name), this is (your name) from (your city). I am a (your position) at (your school). And I’m calling to urge you to restore local levy flexibility without restrictions so school districts can meet the unique needs of our students beyond state-funded basic education. As you know, local voter-approved school levies fund additional teachers, librarians, school nurses, early learning, music, art and so much more. Please pass a clean levy bill without restrictions. Thank you!

Saturday: Email your legislators about levy flexibility. This is your last chance to keep your legislators focused on what’s important for students as they wrap up the 2019 session. 

Tentative budget deal reached, possible House vote on levies  

Mid-afternoon on Thursday, Sen. Christine Rolfes, chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee, and Rep. Timm Ormsby, chair of the House Appropriations committee, announced a tentative budget deal. We’ll know details by Saturday, but will keep you posted if we learn more before then.

The House has also added its version of the levy bill, HB 2140, to the floor calendar for a possible vote.  

Things are starting to break free in Olympia, and we’ll update this as significant changes occur.

Bills the governor has signed:

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.

Bills sent to the governor’s office

These bills have passed both chambers and await the governor’s signature:

ESHB 1130 promotes language access in public schools.

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.

2SHB 1311 allows ninth grade students to sign-up for the college bound scholarship.  

SHB 1575 strengthens collective bargaining and other union rights.

E2SHB 1599 defines multiple pathways for graduation, including a provision that delinks graduation from standardized test results. 

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 1734 requires accreditation standards for college in high school programs.

SHB 5023 provides for ethnic studies classes to be developed. 

2SSB 5082 creates a committee to promote and expand social emotional learning.

E2SSB 5497 says Washington’s Attorney General must publish a model policy limiting immigration enforcement to the fullest extent at public schools to ensure they remain safe and accessible to all Washington residents, regardless of immigration or citizenship status.

SB 5689 includes transgender students in current school district anti-harassment and bullying policies and also allows educators to use age-appropriate curriculum regarding LGBTQ issues.

Bills awaiting concurrence by the original chamber

This bill was passed with amendments by the House and needs to be re-approved by the Senate before it can move to the Governor for signature. That could happen any time.

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

As we await details on the budget deal, we hope to see these bills addressed. Stay tuned.  

E2SSB 5091 Special education funding. 

SB 5393 (1340) eliminates the waitlist for college students eligible for the state need grant.

HB 1390 is 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 is the House levy bill that would restore 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. It is now on the House calendar for a floor vote. 

HB 2158 is a higher education funding bill moved out of the House Finance committee and into Appropriations. It is scheduled for a vote in House Appropriations Thursday evening. 

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. 

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