Prepared by Marie Sullivan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, February 17 is the deadline by which bills referred to policy committees must have passed out of committee to remain under consideration. While there are always exceptions, for the most part, this is a significant deadline and bills that were introduced in the previous week or haven’t had a public hearing are the least likely to keep moving this session.
That means that last week was very busy with public hearings and drafting amendments to legislation that is scheduled for executive action this coming week.
The next deadline we’ll be looking for is February 24, which is the date by which bills must be out of fiscal committees. After that, action will turn to the House and Senate floors for votes.
Special education funding
February 9 the House Appropriations and Senate Ways & Means committees heard public testimony on proposed substitute HB 1436 and SSB 5311, respectively. The reception for the Senate bill was markedly warmer, with most testifiers in the House sharing support for the underlying legislation but not the proposed substitute.
What’s the difference? Here’s a quick comparison of the two bills:
Neither bill has been scheduled for executive action, but have until February 24, as described above.
Other priorities on the watch list
Congratulations are in order to advocates for SSB 5072, universal screening of students for the highly capable program. The bill passed the Senate 48-0 on February 8. It has been referred to the House Education Committee but likely will have to wait until March 9 or after for a public hearing.
Members of the House Energy & Environment heard pros and concerns from testifiers on HB 1368, requiring zero emission buses by 2035 and creating a grant program. The bill has been scheduled for a vote in the policy committee on February 14.
Discussions continue on HB 1479 and SB 5559, bills that would ban the use of isolation and make changes to the state’s restraint law for students in public schools and contracted facilities. Last week the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education committee heard public testimony on SB 5559. The House bill is scheduled for a vote in the House Education Committee on February 16.
Advocacy in Action
- Thank you to all WSPTA members who participated in last week’s Focus on Advocacy email campaign to the state legislature on the Top 5 priorities. More than 2,800 messages were sent encouraging legislators to fund gaps in education funding, including special education; support measures designed to reduce gun violence and youth suicide; increase safety in school buildings; and support student mental health.
- The House Education Committee on Monday, February 6 was a busy place for WSPTA testifiers.
- WSPTA Area E Vice President Tori Emerson shared her experience as a beginning teacher with House Education Committee members while supporting HB 1565, strengthening the professional education workforce. Listen to Tori here.
- Speaking in favor of adding another graduation for high school pathway using a performance exhibit to demonstrate a student has met learning standards in English Language Arts, Math or other core subjects, past WSPTA President Michelle Nims urged House Education Committee members to support HB 1308. Michelle’s testimony can be found here.
- Advocacy Committee member Natalya Yudkovsky shared support and a few requests for amendments when addressing the House Education Committee February 6 on HB 1658, a bill that would allow paid work to count as high school credit. Natalya’s testimony is here.
- Over in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, WSPTA Advocacy Director Lizzy Sebring did double duty on February 6, testifying on two bills.
- Testifying Pro on SB 5559, concerning restraint or isolation of students in public schools and educational programs, Lizzy asked the committee and bill sponsor to consider a few amendments to clarify definitions used in the bill and ensure school districts are provided with ample funding to ensure all staff, including substitutes and those who transport students to and from school, receive training so that all students and staff can be safe at school. Lizzy’s testimony can be found here.
- Lizzy also weighed in as Pro on SB 5626 – expanding and enhancing media literacy and digital citizenship in K-12 education. Listen to Lizzy’s testimony here.
- Parent Advocate Devon Kellogg testified February 6 in the House Appropriations Committee on SHB 1170, improving climate resilience through updates to the state’s integrated climate response strategy. She encouraged legislators to include K-12 schools in the coordination and engagement of the updated strategy. Devon’s testimony can be found here.
- Overcoming some internet connectivity issues, past-President Michelle Nims offered WSPTA’s support for HB 1504, but asked for a few amendments to recognize the challenge of mandating 45 minutes every full day of school and to include dressing and undressing activities associated with recess. At the February 7 hearing, Michelle also asked House Education Committee members to ensure additional minutes don’t cut into lunch time and that the Legislature fund any additional recess staffing requirements. Listen to Michelle’s testimony here.
- Also on February 7, in the House Environment & Energy Committee, parent advocate Devon Kellogg asked committee members to support HB 1368, requiring zero emission buses by 2035. The bill also would create a grant program to support implementation. Devon’s testimony can be found here.
- Thursday, February 9 was special education funding day in the House and Senate budget committees.
- Over in the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Advocacy Director Lizzy Sebring thanked bill sponsor Senator Lisa Wellman for her commitment to more fully funding services for disabilities but told legislators it was time for the cap to go. Lizzy’s testimony can be found here.
- Over in the House, President Nancy Chamberlain shared a similar message with House Appropriations Committee members on a proposed substitute to HB 1436. Unlike the underlying bill, which removed the 13.5% cap on students who can generate special education funding, and increased the multiplier for students who spend more than 80% of their time in general education classrooms, the substitute would phase out the cap over the next four school years and increase the multiplier at a slower rate. Other changes would also be made to the funding formula, causing most people to testify as Other or Con. Listen to Nancy here.
- Advocacy Committee member Natalya Yudkovsky encouraged members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee to support SSB 5243, enhancing High School and Beyond Plans, but asked legislators to provide a longer on ramp for districts to adopt a universal platform and to clearly describe how the new HSBP platform would be developed, implemented and maintained. Listen to Natalya’s testimony February 9 here.
The Week Ahead – Remote Testimony is available for ALL public hearings
Check Week 6 for a full list of committee meetings – below just find the public hearings this week. As always, the schedule is subject to change.
Human Services (Senate) – SHR 2 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 2/13 @ 10:30am
- SB 5719 – Public Hearing – Modifying and extending requirements of a work group convened to address the needs of students in foster care, experiencing homelessness, or both. (Remote Testimony Available).
Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate) – SHR 1 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 2/13 @ 1:30pm
- SB 5710 – Public Hearing – Providing access to behavioral health services to youth in rural and underserved areas. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support)
Appropriations (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 2/13 @ 4:00pm
- SHB 1176 – Public Hearing – Developing opportunities for service and workforce programs to support climate-ready communities. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support/Low)
Ways & Means (Senate) – SHR 4 and Virtual JACB – 2/13 @ 4:00pm
- SSB 5093 – Public Hearing – Improving climate resilience through updates to the state’s integrated climate response strategy. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support/Low)
Finance (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 2/14 @ 8:00am
- HB 1473 – Public Hearing – Investing in Washington families and creating a more fair tax system by enacting a narrowly tailored property tax on extreme wealth derived from the ownership of stocks, bonds, and other financial intangible property. (Remote Testimony Available).
Agriculture and Natural Resources (House) – HHR B and Virtual JLOB – 2/14 @ 10:30am
- HB 1789 – Public Hearing – Expanding revenue generation and economic opportunities from natural climate solutions and ecosystem services. (Remote Testimony Available).
Environment, Energy & Technology (Senate) – SHR 1 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 2/14 @ 1:30pm
- SB 5659 – Public Hearing – Incentivizing gas companies to develop and acquire renewable energy resources. (Hearing is on the Proposed Substitute.) (Remote Testimony Available).
Human Services, Youth, & Early Learning (House) – HHR D and Virtual JLOB – 2/14 @ 1:30pm
- HB 1679 – Public Hearing – Modifying and extending requirements of a work group convened to address the needs of students in foster care, experiencing homelessness, or both. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support/Low)
Postsecondary Education & Workforce (House) – HHR B and Virtual JLOB – 2/14 @ 1:30pm
- HB 1823 – Public Hearing – Modifying the Washington student loan program. (Remote Testimony Available). (If measure is referred to committee.) (Monitoring)
Higher Education & Workforce Development (Senate) – SHR 2 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 2/15 @ 8:00am
- SB 5702 – Public Hearing – Expanding the students experiencing homelessness and foster youth pilot program. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support/Low)
Finance (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 2/16 @ 1:30pm
- HB 1575 – Public Hearing – Modifying the sales and use tax for cultural access programs by allowing the tax to be imposed by a councilmanic or commission authority and defining timelines and priorities for action. (Remote Testimony Available). (If measure is referred to committee.)
Appropriations (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 2/16 @ 4:00pm
- HB 1418 – Public Hearing – Providing enrichment funding for charter public schools. (Remote Testimony Available).
Ways & Means (Senate) – SHR 4 and Virtual JACB – 2/16 @ 4:00pm
- SSB 5189 – Public Hearing – Establishing behavioral health support specialists. (Remote Testimony Available).
Higher Education & Workforce Development (Senate) – SHR 2 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 2/17 @ 10:30am
- SB 5712 – Public Hearing – Expanding the Washington college grant and establishing the Washington college promise program. (Remote Testimony Available).