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This Week in Olympia

02/07/2020
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Week of February 3, 2020

WEA Retired lobby day was Monday 

Rally for Safety and Privacy was Thursday 

  • Read below for good news about HB 1888.

WEA’s annual PoliSparks is Sunday and Monday

  • About 50 WEA members, one of the largest PoliSparks groups ever, are coming to Olympia to learn about the legislative process and how to lobby. They’ll have the opportunity to meeting legislators such as WEA members Rep. Monica Stonier, Rep. Steve Bergquist and Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, and Sen. Lisa Wellman, chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee.

This Week in Olympia

Friday was the first cut-off day, meaning any bill not voted out of its originating committee by Friday is dead for the session, excepting those which lawmakers may later determine to be necessary to implement the budget.

Promoting Equity and Combating Racism

HB 2551  Would permit students to wear traditional tribal regalia and objects of cultural significance at graduation ceremonies and related events. It was voted on Friday morning in the House Government and Tribal Relations committee and passed.

HB 2602  Concerning hair discrimination, had a public hearing on Tuesday, garnering much support. It was voted out of committee last week and has been referred to the House Rules committee. This is the bill that would prohibit discrimination because people have afros, braids, locks or twists. WEA supports.

HB 2653  Is a bill to convene a work group to determine if there is cultural bias in the WA Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WA KIDS). It has not passed out of committee but we are working with the bill sponsor to move the policy forward through a budget request.

HB 2711  Would address equitable educational outcomes for foster care and homeless children. It passed out of Thursday’s House Ed committee. WEA supports.

SB 6066  Would expand ethnic studies materials and resources for K – 6 grades. It has moved to the Senate Rules committee. WEA supports.

SB 6262  Would require teaching local tribal history, culture, and government by 2022. It passed out of the Senate Early Learning K-12 committee on Friday. WEA supports.

Safety for students and staff

HB 1860  Would test for lead in drinking water fixtures in schools. It was approved by the House Education committee on Thursday. WEA supports.

An amendment to HB 1888  would limit access to employee photos, phone numbers and payroll deduction information. Only media outlets would have access to phone numbers, similar to the practice with law enforcement and criminal justice employees. It was passed Friday morning. This is a big victory for WEA members and public employees who fought back hard against various amendments being offered to this bill.

An amended version of HB 2184 would require comprehensive sexual education with an affirmative consent curriculum was passed by the House Education committee on Monday. Clarification was made as to when all districts must begin offering sex ed, when specific topics are introduced, and related to training for staff and other items to support districts’ implementation. WEA supports.

HB 2240  Would limit the number of rounds in high capacity magazines, has moved to the House Rules committee. WEA supports.

HB 2387  Would limit the exposure of public school students and school personnel to diesel emissions from school bus engines.  It was amended and moved forward by the House Education committee on Thursday. OSPI will develop best practices and school districts will report as to how they are reducing diesel bus emissions. WEA supports. 

HB 2555  Regarding background checks has moved to the House Appropriations committee. WEA supports.

HB 2708  Would establish a work group on school-based health centers. It failed to make it out of committee. There is no companion in the Senate.

Recruiting and retaining quality staff

HB 2458 and SB 6479  Would allow districts to offer optional benefits if they are not part of the School Employee Benefit Board program. These bills clearly state that districts have authority to continue VEBA plans and other benefits such as cancer care and financial protection plans through payroll deduction. HB 2458 was voted out of committee on Tuesday and SB 6479 passed on Wednesday. WEA supports.

SB 6138  Would provide additional support for teachers and mentors of color as part of the BEST program. It passed out of Senate Early Learning and K-12 committee and moves to Rules. WEA supports.

SB 6368  Regarding sick leave balances for K-12 employees was not voted out of committee by the Friday deadline.

SB 6512  Would allow K-12 districts to establish affordable housing for employees in order to attract and retain all K-12 employees. Districts would also be able to work with their communities on cross-sector housing complexes. It passed out of committee on Wednesday. WEA supports.

SB 5400  Would provide a Plan 1 increase of 3% up to $62.50 per month for retirees. It was heard in Senate Ways and Means on Thursday. This is the recommended COLA from the Select Committee on Pension Policy. WEA and WEA-Retired support this legislation.

Improving learning conditions

HB 2523  Would make financial aid packages and processes easier to understand. Passed out of Committee on Tuesday.

HB 2637  Would expand school library programs. Passed out of committee on Thursday. The Senate companion bill SB 6371 passed out of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee on Friday. WEA supports.

HB 2654  Would make college budgets, revenue and expenditures more transparent. Was referred to Appropriations.

HB 2660  Would expand school meals for students. It passed out of House Education on Thursday and moves to Appropriations. WEA supports.

HB 2690  Directs OSPI to create a statewide plan to integrate multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS) in all local districts. It didn’t make it out of committee and is likely dead for this session.  

SB 5908  Would provide equity and cultural competency professional learning for public school employees and school boards. It was approved by the Early Learning and K-12 committee and moves to Rules.

OSPI request legislation, SB 6117 would provide funds for special education. It had a public hearing Thursday in the Senate Ways and Means committee. This bill falls short of the $300 million funding gap that exists in special education. WEA supports fully funding special education.

SB 6132  Would expand the allowable uses of the Learning Assistance Program (LAP) to include student supports for behavioral health through a school-wide system of supports. This bill moves on to the Senate Rules committee.

SB 6480  Would develop comprehensive school counselor programs. It had a public hearing on Wednesday and was voted out of committee on Friday. WEA supports.

SB 6615  Would phase in recommendations of the K-12 staffing enrichment workgroup, had a public hearing on Wednesday. Liz Pray, school nurse from Moses Lake and Mandy Sims, school psychologist from Bellevue testified in favor of the bill. This bill would provide new state funding for school districts to phase-in full-funding of I-1351 by prioritizing investments that address student needs for safety, mental, social, emotional and behavioral health and work to eliminate the opportunity gap. WEA supports this bill.

Next Week in Olympia

We expect many bills to be voted on by Tuesday, the fiscal cut-off deadline. Bills must be approved in fiscal committees to remain alive. After that, we expect limited committee meetings during the week, and full floor votes in the House and Senate.

Recruiting and retaining quality staff

HB 2382  Would permit community and technical colleges to investigate providing housing for faculty and staff.  Has a hearing in the House Capital Budget committee on Monday. WEA supports.

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