After a week of mundane business, punctuated with bill signings in the Governor’s office, the 2017 105-day session adjourned “sine die” Sunday around 11 a.m. Governor Jay Inslee is expected to officially call for a special session Monday. At a press conference April 21st, the Democratic governor expressed frustration that the Senate Republicans and House Democrats having begun negotiating on the operating budget.
Senate Republicans have said that until House Democrats pass a way to pay for their operating budget, they have nothing to negotiate. On Friday, the Senate Republicans forced a vote on the Governor’s capital gains and B&O tax increase for professional services. The bills were defeated 0-48, with Senate Democrats decrying the vote as a stunt since the House had already left town for the weekend.
On April 26 at 3 p.m., the Senate Ways & Means Committee will hear a revenue bill sponsored by Senator Dino Rossi, R-45th. SB 5929 is identical to HB 2186, and would increase revenue through a capital gains tax, Internet sales tax collections, a B&O tax on professional services, repealing the sales tax on bottled water, and more. In a press release, Rossi said the bill and hearing will demonstrate a lack of support for the revenue proposals.
Special sessions can only be called by the Governor and last for up to 30 days. In 2015, lawmakers went to the brink of the end of the fiscal year, June 30, to pass operating and capital budget bills, and continued into July to pass policy and “trailer” bills. Most Olympia watchers are concerned that this year will be no different. In addition, any bill not passed by both the House and Senate reverts to the chamber in which it started, rolling back to the “Rules” committees. This way, any bill may be brought up again during a special session.
Of note last week, the House concurred with changes made by the Senate to bills related to school siting outside of the Urban Growth Area; changes to public records laws; grant programs for dual language and developing a bilingual workforce; and setting standards for paraeducators, effective September 1, 2018. The Senate refused to bring SB 5639, a bill that would delink state assessments from graduation requirements, to the floor for concurrence. House proponents of delinking plan to send HB 1046 over to the Senate as soon as they return, and hope to bring pressure on the Senate to pass the bill in time for the class of 2017.
Status of Top Five Legislative Priorities – Update & Focus for Members this Week
All bills that did not pass both the House and Senate return to their original chamber, if passed by their original chamber. These are the bills most likely to be considered in the special session. However, no bill is beyond “life,” depending on the pressure exerted.
- Social and Emotional Learning
- HB 1377, which would create definitions and collaborative time for school counselors, psychologists, and social workers, will return to the House.
- Focus for members: Let House leadership know this is an important bill that should stay in the McCleary mix for special session.
- Amply Funding Basic Education
- Focus for members: WSPTA doesn’t have a position on teacher salaries, but it has plenty of positions related to the 2017 platform and resolutions that have been adopted over the years. WSPTA members are uniquely qualified and in a position to be arguing for amply funding/actual cost of educational services for students with special needs. Take time this week to find out how much your district spends from local levies on special education, and share that with your House and Senate members.
- Closing the Opportunity Gap
- Focus for members: There are many ways to help close the opportunity gap, including academic and non-academic supports for students who are below standard. Support additional funding and staffing in K-12 schools, expansion of ECEAP to close the gap in a student’s early years, and affordability tuition and fees for students pursuing postsecondary education.
- Standards for Paraeducators (HB 1115)
- The bill has been delivered to the Governor.
- Focus for members: Write the Governor and ask him to sign HB 1115.
Mail: Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Then follow the prompts to send an attachment.
- Breakfast after the Bell (HB 1508)
- Unfortunately the bill stalled in the Senate. The bill now returns to the House for further action.
- Focus for members: Contact House leadership and ask them to keep the bill alive by passing it back to the Senate.
2017 WSPTA Supported Issues:
- Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children
- SSB 5241 was signed by the Governor April 17.
- Engaging Families in Student Success
- SHB 1618 will return to the House.
- Focus for members: Contact House leadership and ask them to keep the bill alive by passing it back to the Senate as part of the final McCleary solution.
- Post-Secondary/Higher Education Access and Affordability
- Most policy legislation related to access and affordability has failed to pass this session.
- Focus for members: One of the best places to put pressure would be to support the House budget approach to tuition freezes and backfill to two-year and four-year colleges and universities to retain some measure of access and affordability for the upcoming school year.
- Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP
- Focus for members: Continue to support expansion of ECEAP in the negotiated operating.
The Week Ahead
The Senate budget committee will reconvene April 26 for a hearing on SB 5929. The House is not expected to be town the upcoming week. The Legislative Consultant will begin working on a final, session-end report.
The Bill Signing Process
Anyone can attend a bill signing ceremony. To get the bill action schedule, click here. The Governor has until May 20 to sign or veto bills. Bills will go into effect 90 days after the end of the regular session, unless an effective date was included in the bill. That means that most legislation will be effective July 23, 2017.
WSPTA Legislative Consultant