Legislative Update
February 2017
Week 4 - Legislative Session Updates
By NBCT Marianne Hunter

Where to begin? It was an action-packed week in the legislature as both the House and Senate began moving bills out of committee and onto the floor for debate.

As mentioned last week, SHB 1059, which would extend the levy cliff for another year, passed out of the House on a vote of 62-35. On Monday, because the Republican majority caucus was short two members, Democrats tried an end run to get a vote on the Senate floor. This blog post from the Spokesman Review explains how it all went down. However, their attempt at a rule change failed, and the bill didn't get a vote. It went to the Senate Ways & Means committee for a public hearing (beginning at 1:56:15). Among those testifying with some urgency in favor of this bill were many parents, a representative from OSPI and representatives from the state's associations of superintendents, school boards, and principals. Testifying against the bill was a representative from the Washington Policy Center.

But the really big news of the week came as the Senate Republicans released their education funding plan.  SB 5607 , called the Education Equality Act, was introduced on Tuesday and moved quickly through Senate Ways & Means to the floor. Following lengthy amendment proceedings (beginning at 41:03), all of which failed, members from both sides gave impassioned speeches during the debate (beginning at 1:22:45). Ultimately the bill passed on a party line vote of 25 to 24. Now it goes to the House, where it's scheduled for an Appropriation committee hearing on Monday. 
It's a big bill with lots of moving parts, but this Senate Bill Report provides a clear analysis, including a summary of pro and con testimony from its Ways & Means hearing. The League of Education Voters has also provided a side-by-side comparison of SB 5607, the Governor's proposed spending plan, and current education spending. Good to remember that the Senate will likely release its full proposed budget in mid-to-late March. 
New Bills
  • HB 1793 would eliminate tenth grade assessments in reading, writing, and mathematics, and require students to meet the standard on the SBAC assessments for ELA and math or demonstrate that they have met state standards using the SAT or ACT.
  • HB 1827 would expand the current and future educator workforce through a variety of measures.
  • HB 1843 would provide equitable and responsible investments in the state's basic education program and reductions to local levies. 
  • SB 5534 would provide an annual housing allowance to public school employees, certificated administrative staff, and certificated instructional and classified staff teaching in eligible school districts.
  • SB 5547, and its companion, HB 1732, would exempt PGPs from public inspection under the public records act. 
  • SB 5585 would revise the future teachers' conditional scholarship and loan repayment program to increase the number of elementary teachers in grades K-3.
  • SB 5623 would provide state funding allocations for salaries needed to hire and retain qualified staff as well as other remaining elements of school reform.
Bills Making Progress
  • HB 1319, which would require certain classroom teachers to receive an annual comprehensive evaluation every six or eight years, got a public hearing (beginning at 1:20:40) in the House Education committee on Monday. Testifying in favor of this bill were representatives from OSPI and WEA. It will be considered in Executive Session on 2/9.
  • HB 1374, which would eliminate limits on the number of years of non-school service in calculating years of service for ESAs (occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, nurses, social workers, counselors, and psychologists), got a public hearing in the House Appropriations committee on Thursday afternoon.
  • SB 5070, which would establish employment standards and provide professional development and certification opportunities for paraeducators, got consideration in EL&K12 Ed Executive Session on Thursday afternoon.
  • SB 5202, which would authorize the use of SAT or ACT tests for high school assessment purposes, got a public hearing (beginning at 18:58) in the Senate EL&K12 Education committee on Monday. Testifying in favor of this bill were two high school students from the Legislative Youth Advisory Council, a representative from Spokane Public Schools, and a representative from the Association of Washington School Principals. Testifying against this bill were representatives from the State Board of Education, out of concerns about comparability among schools, among other issues. A rep from OSPI also testified against the bill out of concerns about lack of alignment to the Common Core standards.
  • SB 5238, which would require that cursive writing be taught in schools, got a public hearing (beginning at 58:28) in the Senate EL&K12 Education committee on Monday. This bill's prime sponsor, Senator Judy Warnick, introduced this bill out of concerns that her grandchildren would not be able to read the birthday cards she sends them. Testifying in favor of the bill was a student from the Legislative Youth Advisory Council. A representative from OSPI testified against this bill, citing research that shows no correlation between cursive writing ability and school achievement.
Odd and Ends
Here's a blog post from David Guerin that you might find thought provoking.  And just because it's Friday, here's a little teacher video to make you smile.

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Note about 
l egislative updates: 

CSTP relays these legislative updates to provide information on bills, budgets and legislative processes. CSTP doesn't have a legislative agenda, but does track legislative issues most relevant to teaching.