Sunday, January 29, 2017

Posturing on House and Senate Floor Creates Tense Week

House Republicans sparred with Democrats over a House rule change to create an education-only budget before
writing the rest of the budget, in an attempt to show that Democrats didn’t think education was the state’s paramount duty. Not to be outdone, minority Senate Democrats sought to take advantage of a Senate Republican resignation, and a temporary 24-24 tie, to force the Senate to vote on a bill that would extend about $400 million in local levy authority through January 1, 2019. Both efforts failed, but the floor action did create some political theater.  On another note, Senate Republicans released an education spending plan on Saturday and scheduled a hearing on Monday at 3:30 p.m., in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.  Finally, the House Education Committee passed HB 1046, which would eliminate the requirement to pass state assessments to graduate; the bill passed on a 17-2 vote.

Status of Top Five Legislative Priorities - Update
1.        Social and Emotional Learning
·         HB 1377 – school support services staff.
·         HB 1518 – SEL throughout the calendar year.
2.       Amply Funding Basic Education
·         SB 5297 – Inslee compensation schedule.
·         HB 1059 – extending the levy cliff through January 1, 2019.
·         HB 1282/SB 5183 – increasing MSOC CTE funding. WSPTA signed in as support in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education committee.
·          SB 5432 – increasing the funding allocation for special education programs for students with disabilities.
3.       Closing the Opportunity Gap
·         HB 1511 – expansion of LAP funding.
·         SB 5348 – special needs assessments/diploma/transitional services.
·         HB 1295 – creating a language access advisory committee, and lighthouse projects.
4.       Standards for Para-educators
·         HB 1115 – JC Mitchell testified in favor of the bill in the House Education Committee. The bill sponsor has introduced a substitute to the original, which would remove the requirements for certification and endorsements in ELL and Special Education but boost training.
·         SB 5070 – not scheduled for executive action yet.
5.       Breakfast after the Bell
·         HB 1508 – requiring a breakfast after the bell program in high needs schools and eliminating lunch co-pays. Bill is scheduled for a public hearing Thursday, February 2, in House Education at 8 a.m.  
·         NEW: HB 1551 – creating a kitchen equipment competitive grant program to enhance student nutrition in public schools.  The bill is scheduled for a public hearing Friday, February 3, in House Capital Budget at 8 a.m.

2017 WSPTA Supported Issues:
·         Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children
o    SB 5241/HB 1628 would require school districts to consolidate partial credits, unresolved or incomplete coursework and provide opportunities for credit accrual that eliminates barriers to foster youth.
·         Engaging Families in Student Success
o    NEW: HB 1618 would create a single definition of “family and community engagement coordinators,” and set duties and responsibilities.  
·         Post-Secondary/Higher Education Access and Affordability
o    HB 1033 - concerning the State Need Grant.
o    HB 1452/SB 5361 – expanding the Opportunity Scholarship Program.
o    HB 1512 – expanding eligibility for the College Bound scholarship program.
o    NEW: HB 1651 would put an emphasis on student orientation and supports once a student begins a two-year or four-year college or university.
o    NEW: SB 5476 would expand the State Need Grant income eligibility to families with 85% of the state’s median family income.
o    NEW: SB 5568 would freeze tuition at the two-year and four-year colleges and universities to 2016-17 levels.
·         Removing Barriers to Implementing ECEAP
o    SB 5107 would allow local governments, school districts and non-profit organizations to pay for early learning programs, and would direct Dept of Early Learning to help increase access to early learning.
o    HB 1518 would create a summer Jump Start ECEAP pilot program to be used in public schools to get students entering kindergarten ready.
·         Restorative Justice and School Safety
o    SB 5155 would prohibit the suspension or expulsion of a student in grades K-2, except for the remainder of the day. The bill had a public hearing last week; concerns were raised about the need to have enough time to set up a plan to provide safety to all involved.
Also of note:
·         Simple majority for bonds: Several bills have been introduced that would allow a simple majority on school bond elections.
o    HB 1778/SB 5076 would allow simple majority at all elections.
o    HB 1779 would allow simple majority at only November general elections.

Week in Review
WSPTA signed in as support in the House on a bill related to CTE MSOC funding. Member JC Mitchell testified at the House Education Committee in support of the para-educators bill, HB 1115.

The Week Ahead
Monday, January 30
1:30 p.m., Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education, SHR 1
Work Session: High school graduation requirements.

Public Hearing:
1.        SB 5202 - Authorizing nationally recognized college assessments for high school assessment purposes.
2.       SB 5238 - Requiring that cursive writing be taught in common schools.
3.       SB 5241 - Concerning the educational success of youth in foster care.

Tuesday, January 31
8 a.m., Senate Higher Education, SHR 3
Public Hearing:
·         SB 5361 - Concerning the opportunity scholarship program.

1:30 p.m., House Education, HHR A
Public Hearing:
·         HB 1451 - Improving language access for public school students and families with limited English proficiency.

1:30 p.m., Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education, SHR 1
Work Session: Parent/Family engagement and community-school connections. WSPTA President Barbara Martin will be presenting on behalf of the Washington State PTA.

3:30 p.m., House Capital Budget, HHR B
Work Session:
1.        School Construction.
2.       Early Learning Facilities Needs.

Wednesday, February 1
1:30 p.m., House Higher Education, HHR D
Work Session: Report from the William D. Ruckelshaus Center on "Situation Assessment of the Regulation of For-Profit Degree-Granting Institutions and Private Vocational Schools in Washington."

Public Hearing:
·         HB 1425 - Creating the Washington next generation educational savings account pilot program.
·         HB 1452 - Concerning the opportunity scholarship program.

Thursday, February 2
8 a.m., House Education, HHR A
Public Hearing:
1.        HB 1235 - Assessing physical education practices in public schools.
2.       HB 1346 - Clarifying the authority of a nurse working in a school setting.
3.       HB 1377 - Improving students' mental health by enhancing nonacademic professional services.
4.       HB 1508 - Promoting student health and readiness through meal and nutrition programs.
5.       HB 1542 - Concerning dropout prevention through engaging youth in farming.

1:30 p.m., Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education, SHR 1
Work Session:
1.        Home visiting.
2.       Programs for highly capable students.

Friday, February 3
8 a.m., House Capital Budget, HHR B
Public Hearing:
·         HB 1551 - Creating a competitive equipment assistance grant program to enhance student nutrition in public schools.

Prepared by
Marie Sullivan
WSPTA Legislative Consultant
Email Marie

Bill tracker (updated 1/30/17)

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