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This Week in Olympia

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PoliSPARKS 2020 1

Week of February 10, 2020

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WEA’s annual PoliSparks was Sunday and Monday.

  • About 50 WEA members came Olympia to learn about the legislative process and how to lobby. They met with legislators including WEA members Rep. Monica Stonier, Rep. Steve Bergquist and Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self.

This Week in Olympia

Tuesday was the day that bills were required to be voted out of fiscal committees to stay alive for session. The Senate and the House also took a lot of floor votes and passed several bills out of their chambers. 

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 passed the House. WEA supports.

HB 2602  Concerning hair discrimination, would prohibit discrimination because people have afros, braids, locks or twists. It passed out of the House this week. WEA supports.

HB 2711  Would address equitable educational outcomes for foster care and homeless children. It passed out of the House. WEA supports.

SB 5908  Would provide equity and cultural competency professional learning for public school employees and school boards. It passed out of the Senate on Wednesday. WEA supports.

SB 6066  Would expand ethnic studies materials and resources for K – 6 grades. It passed out of the Senate. WEA supports.

SB 6262  Would require teaching local tribal history, culture, and government by 2022. It passed out of the Senate on Wednesday. WEA supports.

Safety for students and staff

HB 1860  Would test for lead in drinking water fixtures in schools. It passed from Appropriations. 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 birth dates just as they do with law enforcement and criminal justice employees. It passed the House with a 91-7 vote on Friday.  WEA Supports.

An amended version of HB 2184 would provide comprehensive sexual education with an affirmative consent curriculum. It died in Appropriations without a hearing, but SB 5395, which has cleared the Senate, has a hearing in House Education on Thursday. Most likely it will be amended with language from HB 2184, and then will be sent to the House floor for a vote. WEA supports.

HB 2240  Would limit the number of rounds in high capacity magazines, and is on the floor calendar in the House awaiting a vote before cutoff. WEA supports.

HB 2387  Would limit the exposure of public school students and school staff to diesel emissions from school bus engines. The amended version requires OSPI to develop best practices and school districts to report how they are reducing diesel bus emissions.  It currently is in House rules.  WEA supports.

Recruiting and retaining quality staff

HB 1390 and SB 5400  Would provide a Plan 1 increase of 3% up to $62.50 per month for retirees. This is the recommended COLA from the Select Committee on Pension Policy. Both bills are in the Rules Committee and could be pulled to the floor for action in the next week. WEA and WEA-Retired support this legislation.

HB 2382  Would permit community and technical colleges to investigate providing housing for faculty and staff. It passed from the House Capital Budget committee and is in Rules. WEA supports.

HB 2458 and SB 6479 Would allow districts to offer optional benefits if they are not offered as 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. Both bills are in their respective rules committees and need to be voted on by Wednesday in order to move the other chamber for consideration. WEA supports.

SB 6138  Would provide additional support for teachers and mentors of color as part of the BEST program. It passed out of the Senate on Wednesday. WEA supports.

SB 6512  Would allow K-12 districts to establish affordable housing for employees in order to attract and retain K-12 employees. Districts would also be able to work with their communities on cross-sector housing complexes. WEA supports. This bill is in Ways and Means but has not been scheduled for a hearing.

Improving learning conditions

HB 2523 and SB 6141  Would make financial aid packages and processes easier to understand. While HB 2523 failed to pass out of the Appropriations committee, its companion, SB 6141 is in the Senate Rules committee. WEA Supports.

HB 2637  Would expand school library programs. WEA supports but this bill failed to pass out of the Appropriations committee. Both the House and Senate companion of this bill died in their respective fiscal committees.

HB 2654  Would make college budgets, revenue and expenditures more transparent. This bill was not passed out of the appropriations committee, but efforts are underway to include similar language in the supplemental budget.

HB 2660  Would expand school meals for students. It passed out of House Appropriations and is in the Rules committee. WEA supports.

OSPI request legislation, SB 6117 would provide funds for special education. It passed out of 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. It passed out of the Senate on Wednesday. WEA supports.

SB 6480 Would develop comprehensive school counselor programs. It passed out of the Senate on Wednesday. WEA supports.

SB 6615  Would phase in recommendations of the K-12 staffing enrichment workgroup and provide new state funding for school districts for I-1351. WEA supports this bill but it was not passed out of committee before the cutoff date.

Next Week in Olympia

We expect many bills to be voted on by Wednesday, the cut-off for bills to be approved by their house of origin.

Wednesday is also the day that OFM releases its revenue forecast update. The proposed budgets from the House and Senate could be released later next week or earlier the following week. 

Funding for WEA member priorities have been requested in the budgets, and we will be looking to see if the legislature intends to invest in our students and public education consistent with our focus areas for the year:

  • Promoting equity and combating racism
  • Safety for students and staff
  • Recruiting and retaining quality staff
  • Improving learning conditions

Very few bills have been scheduled in committees next week due to floor votes and the Wednesday cutoff.As it becomes clear what bills are still moving, schedules will be updated for committee meetings later in the week.

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