Prepared by Marie Sullivan, firstname.lastname@example.org
March 4th marked the 55th day of a 105-day session, leaving only seven weeks to go before lawmakers will wrap up the business of the 2023 regular session of the 68th Legislature. The House worked late several nights and on Saturday, finally adjourning at 2:15 AM Sunday morning. The Senate adjourned Friday around 11 PM after what was described as an emotional caucus and floor debate over E2SB 5536, the so-called “Blake bill,” which passed 28-21 with a less-than-typical roll call mix of Democrats and Republicans.
Lawmakers have until 5 PM Wednesday, March 8 to pass bills from the chamber in which they were first introduced. For the most part, only a few bills remain bottled up in the Rules Committees. These include:
- 2SSB 5048 – College in the High School fees;
- SB 5647 – providing temporary employees with school safety policy and procedure information;
- HB 1244 – raising the enrichment levy by a 3.7% enhancement until Calendar Year 2029;
- 2SHB 1248 – student transportation.
Bills that advanced to the other chamber
On March 2nd, the House passed E2SHB 1436 by a margin of 94-2. However, the bill only passed after an hour of debate on a striking amendment offered by Auburn Republican Drew Stokesbary, which would have increased the enrollment cap and the various multipliers to the Senate bill levels. The motion to adopt the striking amendment failed 44-52, which indicates that several Democrats voted with Republicans to support the higher special education funding levels.
E2SSB 5311 passed the Senate unanimously on March 3rd. The bill would increase the enrollment cap to 15%; would increase the “greater than/equal to” general education multiplier to 1.12 and the “less than”80% to 1.06; and increase the Pre-K multiplier to 1.2. The bill also would require accountability measures and would direct the Education Ombuds to delegate at least one special education ombuds to serve each ESD region.
In addition, an adopted floor amendment offered by Senate education chair Lisa Wellman would change access to the safety net:
Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, a high-need student is eligible for safety net awards from state funding if the student’s IEP costs exceed: 2.0 times the average per-pupil expenditure, for school districts with fewer than 1,000 FTE students; and 2.2 times the average per-pupil expenditure, for school districts with 1,000 or more FTE students.
The Senate also passed E2SSB 5174 unanimously. An amendment by Senator Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, was adopted; it would clarify the transportation safety net awards could only be provided when a school district’s allowable transportation expenditures exceeded student transportation allocations and any excess transportation costs reimbursed by child welfare agencies. In addition, it made it clear the safety net grant would only be allowed for excess expenditures directly related to serving special passengers.
An amendment to add comparable SEBB health and pension benefits offered by Senator Bob Hasegawa, D-Beacon Hill, was withdrawn, but not after he spoke to the need to provide these benefits to employees of private transportation contractors.
The House companion bill, SHB 1428, has yet to emerge from the House Rules committee.
- E2SHB 1238 would provide state funds to reimburse school districts that are required to offer breakfast and lunch to any student who requests the meal, or both, regardless of income eligibility. For the 2023-24 school year, this would apply in schools with grades K-4 and 40% or greater FRPL eligibility. For the 2024-25 school year, this would apply in schools with grades K-4 and at least 30% and less than 40% FRPL eligibility. The provisions would not apply to schools participating in the federal Community Eligibility Provision that have not completed the duration of the provision’s four-year cycle. Subject to amounts appropriated for this purpose, OSPI would reimburse affected school districts, including districts that don’t participate in the federal meals program but do provide their low-income students with meals at no-cost.
- HB 1308 would add a new performance-based graduation pathway. The bill survived a hostile takeover on the floor and passed the House 63-34. The bill won’t have such a warm reception in the Senate education committee, where some members are more inclined to listen to the Washington Business Roundtable’s objections to allowing any of the “core subjects” to serve as part of the performance pathway. The Roundtable insists that the only valid subjects to prove college and career readiness are English Language Arts and math.
- 2SHB 1316 focuses solely on Running Start dual credit programs and would allow a student who has graduated to earn up to 15 credits to earn his or her AA during a Running Start summer program. Rep. Drew Stokesbary once again offered a striking amendment which would have added College in the High School to the bill. It was voted down, and several legislators said they were voting no on the final bill because it lacked equity among dual credit programs.
- E2SHB 1565 is the educator shortage bill. As amended on the floor, OSPI will conduct a feasibility study for the development and implementation of an online platform for the recruitment and hiring of public school employees that meets certain requirements. The report would be due October 1, 2024, and OSPI could contract with a research entity to do the study. The bill also would increase the number of cohorts for the Teacher Residency Program from three to “up to five cohorts,” and would change the cohort size from “at least 15” to “15-20.” The bill also would direct a report by October 1, 2026 with recommendations for improving the Teacher Residency Program.
- E2SSB 5243, regarding High School and Beyond Plans, was amended on the floor. Senator Brad Hawkins’, R-Wenatchee, amendment would require that technology updates, ongoing maintenance, and adjustments to the technology funding formula be included in OSPI’s universal platform implementation plan. It also would allow OSPI to include a cost alternative for ESDs to host the universal platform for class two districts when a district does not have sufficient technology resources to implement and maintain the universal platform. The OSPI implementation plan for completing statewide implementation of a universal HSBP planning tool must be developed by October 1, 2024
- ESSB 5257 and SHB 1504 would require elementary schools to ensure students have access to at least 30 minutes of recess during a full school day. The two bills differ slightly, and the Senate bill had a hearing in the House Education Committee March 1st. Amendments are being considered on the Senate version, and the bill is scheduled for a vote on March 7th.
- ESB 5462, promoting inclusive learning standards and instructional materials in public schools, was amended on the Senate floor. As some might remember, SB 5441 died in Senate Ways & Means; that bill was amended onto SB 5462. Read the amendment here. The Tri-City Herald ran a story recently on a Richland high school student who is part of the Legislative Youth Advocacy Council that developed the concept and helped write SB 5441.
Still waiting floor action
- SHB 1044 would provide financial assistance to small school districts with demonstrated funding challenges.
- 2SHB 1143 was pulled from the Rules Committee late Saturday evening. The bill was amended in the House Appropriations Committee and would expand the exemption from firearms safety training for law enforcement to cover peace officers who, as a normal part of their duties, have arrest powers and carry a firearm. The bill also reinstated the authority for the Health Care Authority and health care entities to release to law enforcement information relevant to a person’s eligibility to possess a firearm. The new effective date for the bill is January 1, 2025.
- SHB 1240 was also pulled Saturday night, a good sign that the House may take up legislation to prohibit assault weapons before the March 8th
- 2SHB 1305 would make changes to evaluation and identification of students who may need access to special education. Bill sponsor Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, is offering a floor striking amendment that would add a provision for OSPI to develop rules for exceptions to the requirement for evaluation and determination within 60 calendar days of a parent’s consent to evaluate the student. In adding this provision, the striker would remove several of the exceptions in the bill.
- 2SSHB 1479 would make changes to isolation and restraint practices. Two amendments that will be added under the Callan floor striker include making sure that “room clears” are not considered “isolation,” and adding building administrators to the priority list for professional development. The striking amendment would make a few other changes as well.
- 2SHB 1550 was pulled to the House floor. It isn’t clear yet whether floor amendments will be offered. One of the remaining issues is the level of funding to be appropriated for the new Transition to Kindergarten program and whether that is comparable to the TK allocation.
This year the average statewide ECEAP rate for a school day slot is $12,621. The bill would divide that by 1.091 to get a base funding amount of $11,568.29. Regionalization would then work as follows:
- No regionalization: $11,568.29
- 6% regionalization: $12,262.38
- 12% regionalization: $12,956.48
- 18% regionalization: $13,650.58
If the legislature provides a 15% rate increase (at least) for ECEAP school day slots, the average statewide ECEAP school day slot rate would be increased to $14,514. Regionalized ECEAP rates would then look like the following:
- No regionalization: $13,303.39
- 6% regionalization: $14,101.59
- 12% regionalization: $14,899.80
- 18% regionalization: $15,698.00
Advocacy in Action
- Austina De Bonte, WSPTA member and President of the Washington Coalition for Gifted Education, urged House Education Committee members to pass SSB 5072, universal screening for highly capable students during a public hearing March 1st. Listen to Austina here. Rene Price, testifying on behalf of Washington State PTA, overcame technical difficulties to deliver her testimony in favor of the bill.
- At the same hearing, former WSPTA President Michelle Nims testified in support of ESSB 5257, supporting 30 minutes of school recess. Michelle’s testimony can be found here.
The Week Ahead – Remote Testimony is available for ALL public hearings
Next week legislators will be on the Senate and House floor through Wednesday at 5 PM. On Thursday policy and fiscal committees will begin again in earnest, with the next cutoff Wednesday, March 29.
Schedule is subject to change:
Health Care & Wellness (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 3/6 @ 8:00am
- SB 5036 – Exec Session – Concerning telemedicine. (Support)
Education (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 3/7 @ 8:00am
- SSB 5072 – Exec Session – Advancing equity in programs for highly capable students. (Support/High)
- ESSB 5257 – Exec Session – Ensuring elementary school students receive sufficient daily recess. (Support)
Education (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 3/9 @ 8:00am
- SB 5019 – Public Hearing – Concerning classified staff providing student and staff safety. (Remote Testimony Available). (Neutral)
- SB 5031 – Public Hearing – Concerning safety net award distributions. (Remote Testimony Available). (Monitoring)
Regulated Substances & Gaming (House) – HHR E and Virtual JLOB – 3/9 @ 8:00am
- ESSB 5365 – Public Hearing – Preventing use of vapor and tobacco products by minors. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support)
Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate) – SHR 1 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 3/9 @ 1:30pm
- SHB 1015 – Public Hearing – Concerning minimum employment requirements for paraeducators. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support/Low)
- ESHB 1277 – Public Hearing – Improving the consistency and quality of the implementation of the fundamental course of study for paraeducators. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support/Low)
Environment, Energy & Technology (Senate) – SHR 1 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 3/10 @ 8:00am
- E2SHB 1170 – Public Hearing – Improving climate resilience through updates to the state’s integrated climate response strategy. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support)
Health & Long Term Care (Senate) – SHR 4 and Virtual – 3/10 @ 8:00am
- SHB 1069 – Public Hearing – Adopting the mental health counselor compact. (Remote Testimony Available).
Health Care & Wellness (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 3/10 @ 8:00am
- SSB 5189 – Public Hearing – Establishing behavioral health support specialists. (Remote Testimony Available).
- 2SSB 5555 – Public Hearing – Creating the profession of certified peer specialists. (Remote Testimony Available). (Monitoring)
Postsecondary Education & Workforce (House) – HHR B and Virtual JLOB – 3/10 @ 8:00am
- SB 5079 – Public Hearing – Concerning the date by which tuition operating fees are established. (Remote Testimony Available). (Monitoring)
Higher Education & Workforce Development (Senate) – SHR 2 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 3/10 @ 10:30am
- 2SHB 1176 – Exec Session – Developing opportunities for service and workforce programs to support climate-ready communities. (Support/Low)
- HB 1232 – Public Hearing – Enhancing the college bound scholarship program. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support)
- EHB 1823 – Public Hearing – Modifying the Washington student loan program. (Remote Testimony Available). (If measure is referred to committee.) (Monitoring)