Fiscal committees worked overtime this past week, with the House meeting into earlyto act on policy bills that had some impact on the state budget. Typically bills that are linked to the operating or capital budget aren’t subject to the deadlines, but nothing is officially off the table until the gavel falls April 23rd. Policy bills that failed to pass their respective fiscal committees may see life in the operating or capital budgets as provisos or return as “trailing bills.”
The session is nearing the half-way mark of the 105-day session, and the focus shifts over the next two weeks to floor action. Bills must pass by 5 p.m. on March 8 from the chamber where they started to remain under consideration. The biggest exception would be budget bills. Speaking of which, an economic review will occur March 2, with the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council meeting at 10 a.m. on March 16 to get the most current report on projected revenue for fiscal year 2017, and the 2017-19 biennium.
Status of Top Five Legislative Priorities - Update
1. Social and Emotional Learning
· All three bills, HB 1377, HB 1518, and HB 1621 died in House Appropriations. Two of the bills (HB 1377 and HB 1621) are somewhat linked to the House Democrats’ education funding bill – ESHB 1843 – so may be resurrected soon. Elements of HB 1518, which included an extension of the SEL benchmarks work group and a summer ECEAP pilot project, may be inserted into the House operating budget as provisos. Members talking with their legislators should share this request.
2. Amply Funding Basic Education
· ESHB 1843, the House Democrat education funding plan, was sent to the Senate on a party-line vote of 50-48. It is expected that negotiations on the two major plans (HB 1843 and SB 5607) will begin in earnest. New district-by-district fiscal impact charts have been released by Senate Republicans.
· On Monday, February 27, at 10 a.m., the Senate Ways & Means Committee will hear public testimony on a substitute of Senator Mark Mullet’s education funding plan, SB 5825.
3. Closing the Opportunity Gap
· A bill that would increase funding for LAP, HB 1511, and two bills (HB 2075 and SB 5758) that would have added $400 per student for various academic-focused activities both failed to pass their respective fiscal committees. Like the SEL bills above, it is possible elements of these bills will show up in the education funding solution.
4. Standards for Para-educators
· SHB 1115 and SB 5070 were passed from their fiscal committees and are in the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee is the stopping point before bills are referred to the floor for action.
5. Breakfast after the Bell
· Even as amended, SSB 5696 failed to pass the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
· SHB 1508 passed out of House Appropriations and is in the Rules Committee.
2017 WSPTA Supported Issues:
· Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children
o SSB 5241 is in the Senate Rules committee.
· Engaging Families in Student Success
o SHB 1618 is in House Rules.
· Post-Secondary/Higher Education Access and Affordability
o Many of the access and affordability bills died last Friday. These include: HB 1425 (next generation education savings account); HB 1840 (Washington promise program); and HB 1847 (state goal of 50/50 cost-share for state/attendee tuition and fees);
o Those that are still in play include: HB 1452 (expansion of the opportunity scholarship) and HB 1512 (expansion of College Bound Scholarship eligibility).
· Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP
o Two bills to create a grant and loan program to increase the number of early learning facilities are both still under consideration. The bills are HB 1777 and SB 5753.
· Restorative Justice and School Safety
o SSB 5155, focused on limiting the number of days students in grades K-2 could be suspended or expelled is eligible for floor action.
Week in Review
Northshore parent Corina Pfeil testified for the first time before the House Appropriations Committee in support of HB 1508, the breakfast after the bell bill. She did a lot of research to prepare for the meeting, and represented WSPTA very well.
Senate Republicans announced revised materials and district-by-district analyses of their proposal, SB 5607. Follow the link here to read the various documents.
The Week Ahead
Monday, February 27
10 a.m., Senate Ways & Means, SHR 4
· Public hearing on proposed substitute SB 5825, Mullet’s education funding plan
Tuesday, February 28
8 a.m., House Education – HHR A - tentative
· Work Session on teacher shortage
WSPTA Legislative Consultant