January 29, 2024

2024 Legislative Session: Policy Cutoff Approaches

A silhouette of the Olympia Capitol building with the words "Legislative Update" in the foreground.

By Marie Sullivan,

Remember those 600+ bills introduced on Day 1 of the 2024 legislative session? Since then, nearly 600 more bills have been introduced – and this on top of bills not enacted last year that still have some juice! Policy and budget committees have been busy holding public hearings and voting on bills in anticipation of the first deadline of January 31st for bills to pass out of policy committees. The next deadline will be Monday, February 5, when bills must pass out of the fiscal committees. At that point in session, we should have a better idea of which bills have some traction, although they still have another 38 days until “sine die.”

With Wednesday’s policy committee deadline approaching, next week’s committee meetings are mainly set aside for executive action. Bills that were controversial or needed a little more work are likely to be amended, so that’s where sharp eyes are watching the next few days. In addition, with the fiscal committee deadline falling on a Monday, look for House Appropriations and Senate Ways & Means to pull their first Saturday workdays on February 3.

Bills we’re watching (see the full bill tracker here)

House Education Committee

The House Education Committee has scheduled many bills for a vote next week. The committee meetings are on Monday and Tuesday, so bills that don’t pass by the end of the 4 PM Tuesday public meeting are considered “dead” for session.  Many bills on the list for executive action have proposed amendments, some of which are described here based on availability from the public website:

  • HB 1228 would formally establish the dual language and tribal education programs, including a grant program to prioritize schools in the educational opportunity gap, with first priority going to schools with more than 50% students of color. The proposed 2nd substitute would also direct OSPI to report on costs to implement dual language programs and a plan to implement the program statewide.
  • E2SHB 1479 would ban isolation of students and make changes to restraint of students. A proposed substitute is in the works, but has not been posted yet.
  • E2SHB 1565 would create a joint legislative select committee on expanding the teacher workforce. This is a significant change from last year’s bill, but bill sponsor Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-21, said it was the best way to bring focus to the educator pipeline issue.
  • HB 1843 and HJR 4207 would ask Washington voters to consider lowering the threshold to pass bonds from 60% to 55%. The bills are sponsored by Vancouver Republican Rep. Paul Harris, along with a list of House Democrats. No other Republicans signed onto the bills.
    • ACTION: All WSPTA members are asked to complete the Monday Action Alert to encourage House Education Committee members to support these bills as pass them out of the committee. Messages must be sent no later than noon on January 30th.
  • HB 2331 would prohibit school district boards of directors from refusing to approve or prohibiting the use of an educational material on the basis that it relates to or includes the study of the role and contributions of individuals or groups that are part of a protected class as established in public school nondiscrimination provisions. The proposed amendments make some technical changes and, among other changes, specify that district superintendent decisions about reviews of instructional materials and supplemental instructional materials may not be reconsidered for a minimum of three years unless there is a substantive change of circumstances, as determined by the superintendent.

Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee

Over in the Senate, their education committee meets Monday and Wednesday. Here are a few of the bills scheduled for action:

  • SB 5956 would allow school districts to multiply their $2,500 per pupil maximum enrichment levy by the district’s regionalization factor if the school district has fewer than 40,000 students.
  • SB 6264 would require OSPI to adopt rules to authorize funding for students enrolled in “competency-based education” programs and to create competencies aligned with state learning standards. It also would require the State Board of Education to develop and recommend a process to expand the program statewide, and to allow the competency-based high school transcript to be used as a part of, or as an alternative, to the standardized high school transcript developed under the bill.

Not scheduled, but the subject of a public hearing last week, is SB 5966, addressing isolation and restraint. The bill was Federal Way Democrat Senator Claire Wilson’s approach to the topic raised in the 2023 session. The bill had an active hearing, with a mix of Pro, Con and Other testimony.

Zero Emission School Buses

After a contentious hearing January 11th and getting pulled from a vote on January 18th, SHB 1368 has been scheduled for executive action on Monday, January 29th with a proposed striking amendment that would create a grant program for school districts to begin transitioning to zero emission school bus vehicles (ZEV). The proposed substitute offered by Rep. Tana Senn, D-Mercer Island, would:

  • Remove the date mandate from the original bill;
  • Create a grant program offered through the Department of Ecology, that includes purchasing the buses and also the planning, design and construction of associated charging infrastructure; scrapping old diesel school buses; and training associated staff;
  • Prioritize grants for bus routes serving overburdened communities that have poor air quality, including rural school districts, with buses manufactured prior to 2007, and other priorities if funds remain;
  • Require privately contracted student transportation services to offer 75% of their bus fleets as ZEV; and
  • Require OSPI to use only zero emission categories in the depreciation schedule for bus reimbursement once ZEV are at or below the price of diesel buses, except as needed to reimburse buses purchased prior to prices being the same.

Advocacy in Action!

  • WSPTA Advocacy Committee member Danica Noble spoke in favor of HB 2313, furthering digital equity and opportunity in Washington. Danica shared a personal story related to seeking a grant to support connectivity in a school her child attends, the frustration of not being able to pursue the grant, and the need to keep the pressure on expanding digital equity for students and families. Watch Danica here. The bill is scheduled for a vote January 30th.
  • WSPTA Advocacy Committee member Natalya Yudkovsky testified in favor of HB 2374, creating a Washington Promise program to support students accessing affordable postsecondary education. Several of Natalya’s suggestions will be incorporated into an amendment in the bill’s next stop, provided it passes out of committee. Watch Natalya here.
  • Parent Heather Segars testified for Washington State PTA in favor of SB 5873, providing adequate and predictable student transportation. During the hearing before the Senate Ways & Means Committee, Heather shared the experience of her Shoreline School District and the underfunding of student transportation by $800,000. Heather said that when districts have a shortfall like this, they must rely on enrichment levies. Watch Heather here.
  • Issue submitter Carrie McKenzie spoke in favor of SB 6264, a bill that would expand competency-based education (otherwise known as Mastery Based Education) across the state beyond the pilot program. The bill also would authorize OSPI to adopt rules to support full funding for students participating in competency-based education programs. Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee Chair Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, has been advocating for competency-based education for years and was pleased with WSPTA testimony. Watch Carrie here.

The Week Ahead – Schedule subject to change

Law & Justice (Senate) – SHR 4 and Virtual JACB – 1/29 @ 10:30am

  • SB 5963 – Public Hearing – Concerning insurance requirements relating to the ownership of certain deadly weapons. (Remote Testimony Available).

Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate) – SHR 1 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 1/29 @ 1:30pm

  • SB 6223 – Public Hearing – Updating school district director compensation. (Remote Testimony Available).
  • SB 5964 – Public Hearing – Increasing student access to free meals served at public schools. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support)
  • SB 6012 – Exec Session – Helping approved teacher preparation programs respond to the continuously changing needs of the modern classroom.
  • SB 6123 – Exec Session – Adjusting classified school employee salaries.
  • SB 6031 – Exec Session – Modifying the student transportation allocation to accommodate multiple vehicle types for transporting students.
  • SB 6264 – Exec Session – Supporting the implementation of competency-based education. (Support)

Education (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 1/29 @ 1:30pm

  • HB 1228 – Exec Session – Building a multilingual, multiliterate Washington through dual and tribal language education. (Support)
  • E2SHB 1565 – Exec Session – Supporting and strengthening the professional education workforce. (Support)
  • HB 2037 – Exec Session – Concerning Holocaust and genocide education in public schools. (Monitoring)
  • HB 2239 – Exec Session – Supporting student well-being through instruction in social-emotional skills.
  • HB 1935 – Exec Session – Promoting resource conservation practices that include student education and leadership opportunities in public schools. (Support)
  • HB 2038 – Exec Session – Collecting data on student transfers and withdrawals from public schools and school districts. (Monitoring)
  • HB 2130 – Exec Session – Extending special education services. (Support)
  • HB 2331 – Exec Session – Modifying requirements for public school instructional and supplemental instructional materials. (Support)
  • HB 2398 – Exec Session – Requiring parent representation on instructional materials committees.

Appropriations (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 1/29 @ 4:00pm

  • HB 1368 – Exec Session – Requiring and funding the purchase of zero emission school buses. (Support/Medium)
  • HB 2180 – Exec Session – Increasing the special education enrollment funding cap. (Support)

Innovation, Community & Economic Development, & Veterans (House) – HHR C and Virtual JLOB – 1/30 @ 10:30am

  • HB 2313 – Exec Session – Furthering digital equity and opportunity in Washington. (Support)

Law & Justice (Senate) – SHR 4 and Virtual JACB – 1/30 @ 10:30am

  • SB 5963 – Exec Session – Concerning insurance requirements relating to the ownership of certain deadly weapons.

Health Care & Wellness (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 1/30 @ 1:30pm

  • HB 2247 – Exec Session – Addressing behavioral health provider shortages.
  • HB 2197 – Exec Session – Concerning the availability of prevention services under medical assistance programs. (Support/Medium)

Postsecondary Education & Workforce (House) – HHR B and Virtual JLOB – 1/30 @ 1:30pm

  • HB 2309 – Exec Session – Establishing the Washington 13 free guarantee. (Concerns)
  • HB 2374 – Exec Session – Establishing the Washington promise program. (Support)

Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry (House) – HHR D and Virtual JLOB – 1/30 @ 4:00pm

  • HB 2079 – Exec Session – Improving school safety by extending and increasing penalties for interference by, or intimidation by threat of, force or violence at schools and athletic activities.

Education (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 1/30 @ 4:00pm

  • E2SHB 1479 – Exec Session – Concerning restraint or isolation of students in public schools and educational programs. (Support/Medium)
  • HB 1843 – Exec Session – Modifying school district elections. (Support)
  • HJR 4207 – Exec Session – Amending the Constitution to allow 55 percent of voters voting to authorize school district bonds. (Support)
  • HB 1922 – Exec Session – Establishing a grant program for the purchase and installation of vape detectors in public schools.
  • HB 2018 – Exec Session – Improving student outcomes by restricting mobile device use by public school students. (Monitoring)
  • HB 2005 – Exec Session – Including weighted grade point averages on high school transcripts. (Support)

Ways & Means (Senate) – SHR 4 and Virtual JACB – 1/30 @ 4:00pm

  • SB 5904 – Public Hearing – Extending the terms of eligibility for financial aid programs. (Remote Testimony Available).
  • SB 5999 – Public Hearing – Expanding financial aid eligibility. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support)
  • SB 5850 – Public Hearing – Supporting students who are chronically absent and at risk for not graduating high school. (Remote Testimony Available).
  • SSB 5923 – Public Hearing – Addressing fentanyl and other substance use prevention education. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support)

Environment, Energy & Technology (Senate) – SHR 1 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 1/31 @ 8:00am

  • ESHB 1589 – Public Hearing – Supporting Washington’s clean energy economy and transitioning to a clean, affordable, and reliable energy future. (Hearing is on the Proposed Striking Amendment.) (Remote Testimony Available). (Support)

Higher Education & Workforce Development (Senate) – SHR 2 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 1/31 @ 8:00am

  • SB 6254 – Exec Session – Providing student navigational supports to increase postsecondary enrollment.
  • SB 6300 – Exec Session – Permitting beneficiaries of public assistance programs to automatically qualify as income-eligible for the purpose of receiving the Washington college grant. (Support)

Early Learning & K-12 Education (Senate) – SHR 1 and Virtual J.A. Cherberg – 1/31 @ 10:30am

  • SB 5956 – Exec Session – Concerning the maximum per-pupil limit for enrichment levies.
  • SB 5969 – Exec Session – Adjusting school districts’ authority to contract indebtedness for school construction. (Support)
  • SB 5978 – Exec Session – Authorizing the office of the superintendent of public instruction to act as a guarantor for a county when the county provides a loan to a school district.
  • SB 6216 – Exec Session – Establishing a statewide network for student mental and behavioral health.

Capital Budget (House) – HHR B and Virtual JLOB – 2/1 @ 8:00am

  • HB 2411 – Exec Session – Adjusting school districts’ authority to contract indebtedness for school construction.

Appropriations (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 2/1 @ 10:30am

  • HB 1946 – Exec Session – Creating the Washington health corps behavioral health scholarship program. (Support)
  • SHB 2214 – Public Hearing – Permitting beneficiaries of public assistance programs to automatically qualify as income-eligible for the purpose of receiving the Washington college grant. (Remote Testimony Available). (Support)

Appropriations (House) – HHR A and Virtual JLOB – 2/3 @ 9:00am

  • HB 2214 – Exec Session – Permitting beneficiaries of public assistance programs to automatically qualify as income-eligible for the purpose of receiving the Washington college grant. (Support)
Category: Advocacy , Legislative

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