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This Week in Olympia

02/12/2016

Week 5

February 8 – 12

Things began to heat up this week. Both chambers are spending a lot of time in caucuses discussing bills and counting votes. Lawmakers emerge to debate and pass a flurry of bills and then return to caucus.  WEA lobbyists are working our issues and keeping a close eye on events.

The last day the House can pass bills off the floor and send to the Senate (and vice versa) is next Wednesday, Feb. 17. 

McCleary Plan amended to limit bargaining rights

This week, the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed an amendment on a party line vote to its so-called McCleary “solution” (2SSB 6195). The bill as written would restrict our ability to negotiate TRI pay, effective July 1st.  We expect it to be voted off the Senate floor within a week. This bill also delays full implementation of McCleary, dragging out the timeline for providing educator raises and fully funding basic education.

Instead of meeting their obligation to fully fund public education for all students in the state, Senate Republicans propose to blame districts, make some accounting changes and restrict your bargaining rights.

Specifically, the proposal would limit the type of work we could bargain for, outside the regular work day and basic education. Here are just a few examples of what this means:

TRI pay would be eliminated; all supplemental pay (local contracts) would be time-based. Additional pay for classroom overloads would not be allowed – making it easier for districts to continue maintaining some of the highest class sizes in the country! Kindergarten teachers wouldn’t get paid for extra work associated with WA KIDS Teachers could no longer be compensated for the many extra hours they put in to keep our schools running - grading papers, prepping assignments, drafting lesson plans and communicating with parents are a few examples.

The state has been dragging its feet on educator pay for too long, and now we face a teacher shortage. Local districts need to retain the ability to pay enough in order to attract and keep quality educators, and to address local needs.

Send a message to your Senator telling him or her to vote this bill down and focus on fully funding basic education for the 1.1 million students in our state.

Teacher shortage

HB 1737, bill would allow retirees who retired early using the 2008 Early Retirement Factors to work as substitutes for up to 630 hours per year until August 2020.  It has been referred to the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee and is scheduled for a hearing Thursday.

Paraeducators

SB 6408, This is the rewrite of a bill WEA stopped last session.  While it addresses the need to establish and fund high quality professional development for instructional paraeducators, it also ties it to a licensure/certification system.

Paraeducators would be required to take specific courses with no guarantee that the courses would be affordable or accessible.  Failure to do so could result in loss of their jobs if the bill passes as written without adequate funding. 

The bill is in Senate Rules committee. If no action is taken by Wednesday, it should die.

Charter Schools

SB 6194, is almost exactly the same as the charter school initiative the State Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional.  It was the first education bill passed off the floor of the Senate.  Rep. Santos, Chair of the House Education Committee scheduled a hearing on Friday, Feb 19.

Higher Education

SHB 2615, is our bill to begin the process of converting part-time to full-time faculty in  community and technical colleges, and increasing the pay of part time faculty. It passed out of the House Appropriations committee along a party line vote. It passed out of the House Friday afternoon.    

HB 2769, creates a pilot program for community and technical colleges to offer full bachelor degrees. It passed out of House Appropriations with amendments proposed by WEA and AFT to ensure that pilots have faculty support, and to include statewide faculty unions in the study to identify the impacts of such a move.  WEA testified on the need to provide comparable quality, wages, and working conditions for the faculty who will be teaching in these programs. 

Look ahead

Next week, the updated revenue forecast will be released Wednesday morning. House and Senate budget proposals could follow any time after that.

The last day the House can pass bills off the floor and send to the Senate (and vice versa) is next Wednesday, Feb. 17.  This is a fluid time and bills can come up for votes with little lead time. 

The Senate will hear the House McCleary bill on Thursday. Though not part of the House bill, we continue to tell Senators to adamantly oppose their amendment to 2SSB 6195 which would limit our ability to bargain TRI pay. (see lead story above.)

Teacher Shortage

HB 1737 would allow retirees who retired early with 2008 Early Retirement Factors to work limited hours as substitute teachers.  To be heard on Thursday in Senate Early Learning & K-12 Committee. WEA supports this bill.

Charter Schools

The House Education Committee is hearing SB 6194, the Senate’s Charter school bill, on Friday. We oppose this bill.

 

 

 

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