Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bills we are tracking - Feb. 27 update

Sick and family leave, foster care, troubled youth, CPR, after-school use of facilities, dropout prevention, compulsory attendance, sex education, math and science, online learning ... and graduation tests

Read on for bill information and links to comment on them. Click here for Action Alert on testing feedback

NEWS, the group that sued – and won – over school funding, has updated its website (above). Links of interest:
Washington State PTA is a member of NEWS. You should feel free to share these resources with your PTAs and members.

The Legislature is always busy when in session, but activity has picked up significantly. Last week, bills needed to move out of policy committees. This week bills need to move out of the money committees. This means bills are starting to come up for floor votes and your legislators need to hear feedback on the bills with traction.

I will start moving lists of bills that members may want to comment on. (It’s easy to do, just click on the link provided and you can send a note directly to your legislators.) I am starting with bills that don’t necessarily fit into our 2013 platform categories but that fall under PTA’s larger advocacy umbrella.

Health and well-being bills

Substitute HB 1313 (Green) - Establishing minimum standards for sick and safe leave from employment. No one should be forced to leave a sick child at school or at home, alone. This policy was written collaboratively by small businesses, health professionals, labor and community advocates. WSPTA has signed in PRO.
Substitute HB 1457 (Jinkins) - Implementing family and medical leave insurance.  It will be paid for by payroll premiums. It does not cost the General Fund and in fact saves the General Fund by making new moms and babies healthier and reducing their health care costs. WSPTA has signed in PRO.

Nationally, PTA was instrumental in helping to pass the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Our position is that paid sick leave and family and medical leave improve the health and well-being of families, and boost children’s school readiness and success.

Engrossed Substitute HB 1204 (Roberts) - Ensures sibling visitation for children in foster care. PTA position  (See Health and Well-being of Children and Youth)
Companion bills
Substitute SB 5365 (Rolfes) – Increasing the capacity of school districts to recognize and respond to troubled youth. WSPTA has signed in PRO.

 Substitute HB 1336 (Orwall) – Increasing the capacity of school districts to recognize and respond to troubled youth. WSPTA has signed in PRO

WSPTA supports efforts in this area (See Youth Suicide Prevention resolution ). We would also encourage the state to continue to develop tools to help school staff address students’ social and emotional health, such as support to implement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, and adoption of comprehensive K-12 Social Emotional Learning standards.

Substitute HB 1556 (Van De Wege) - Creating initiatives in high schools to save lives in the event of cardiac arrest. WSPTA signed in PRO.


School related

Substitute SB 5587 (Litzow) - Concerning student assessments. Replaces end-of-course exams in algebra and geometry with comprehensive test to measure career and college readiness in mathematics; replaces reading and writing assessments with comprehensive English language arts assessment. The new assessments will be aligned to Common Core State Standards, are intended to be more rigorous, and will be administered in 11th grade. They are currently in development by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. WSPTA has not taken a position but has set up an Action Alert so members can give feedback to their legislators. (Several years ago we sought to swap out comprehensive exams in favor of end-of-course exams.)

Substitute HB 1852 (Kagi) – Code rules for after-school programs (possibly ease restrictions so school facilities can be used for after-school programs. Otherwise schools need to meet higher restrictions of pre-school programs and many facilities don’t comply. Washington State Patrol – really! – would set new minimum fire requirements). No WSPTA positions, but some local PTAs and councils have lobbied for such legislation.
Amended HB 1276 (Reykdal) - Creating the dropout prevention through farm engagement pilot project. Interesting discussion on having the state pay students a stipend to “work” in the farm program over the summer. Both policy and appropriations committees upheld that idea. WSPTA supports effective drop out programs but remained neutral on this specific proposal. We have no position on “paying students.”
Substitute HB 1283 (Maxwell) - Changing compulsory school attendance requirements for children six and seven years of age. WSPTA testified in support. We support early learning and early intervention, and requiring attendance or homeschooling by first grade aligns with how our K-12 system is set up. Kindergarten – both half and full day -- remains optional.  
Substitute HB 1397 (Orcutt) - Suggests sexual health programs include information about the legal elements of sexual offenses and include information provided by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs. (Original bill required it.) WSPTA remained neutral.
Substitute HB 1472 (Hansen) - Requires school districts to approve AP Computer Science as equivalent to high school mathematics and science. WSPTA has long advocated for math and science programs, as well as alignment of K-12 to higher education needs
Substitute HB 1423 (Haigh) – Provides a single, consistent set of laws, rules, and procedures for schools and school districts seeking to offer online learning for students. WSPTA does not have a position and remained neutral, but members may want to weigh in.

More great resources:

  • Washington is tremendously lucky to have TVW, You can catch committee hearings and watch floor sessions; read a daily a blog; and catch televised daily recaps.
  • The state’s legislative website,, is another great resource. It has a lot of information on it, so it’s best to explore and see which features you like. From an advocacy standpoint, I find the bill reports especially helpful. They not only summarize the bills, they provide background.
- Ramona Hattendorf, Government Relations Coordinator, Washington State PTA

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