Past the halfway point, we're advocating to get our students what they need
We’re just about halfway done with our short 60-day legislative session and while not everything we fought for made it past the cutoff deadlines, lots of bills that will improve our schools and colleges are still moving forward. Legislators are also hosting their mid-session town halls; more on that below.
Testifying to what our students need
In this fifth week of session, WEA members have testified to the need for:
- Appropriate funding for teacher-experience mix (HB 2458; Keith Swanson, Walla Walla Valley EA)
- Supporting Holocaust and genocide education (SB 5851; Rose Nelson, Vancouver EA)
- Supporting computer-science graduation requirement (SSB 5849; Jennifer Boutell, Tacoma EA)
Priority bills moving on
Legislators have been moving swiftly to make cutoff deadlines. Lots of our priorities are still moving on:
- Paraeducator staffing (SB 5882) passed on the Senate floor and is on to the House
- Retiree Plan 1 Cost of Living Adjustment (HB 1985) passed off the House floor and is now in Senate Ways & Means awaiting a hearing date
- Adjunct faculty access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (HB 1950) passed off the House floor and out of Senate Higher Ed & Workforce Development; it is currently in Senate Rules
- Promoting inclusive learning standards and materials (ESB 5462) passed the Senate and now has a hearing in House Education this Wednesday at 10:30am.
- Protecting workers from forced meetings about political or religious matters (ESSB 5778) passed the Senate floor and is on to the House
- Allowing digital signatures/digital cards for public sector union organizing (SB 6060) passed the senate
What still needs to move?
Bills have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 13, to pass off the floor of their chamber of origin.
- Raising the cap on Special Education funding (HB 2180) is in House Rules and needs to pass off the House floor
- Protecting students’ freedom to learn diverse curricula (HB 2331) needs to pass off the House floor
- Holocaust and genocide education (HB 2037) awaits a House floor vote and is in Senate Rules Committee awaiting a Senate floor vote (SB 5851)
- Fentanyl and substance-use education (HB 1956) awaits a floor vote in the House.
- Unemployment insurance for striking workers (HB 1893) awaits a vote on the House floor and its companion (SB 5777) awaits a vote on the Senate floor
- ESP pay increases (HB 2380, SB 6082)
- Adjunct faculty benefits (HB 2125)
- Extending Special Education services to students up to 22 years old (HB 2130)
- Free school meals for all PK-12 students (HB 2058) and SB 5964)
- Simple majorities to pass school bonds (SB 5823 and SJR 8207)
- Regionalized levy funding limits (SB 5956)
More committee hearings plus legislator town halls
If you missed your chance so far this session to testify on bills that matter to you and your students, don’t worry. Now that bills are in their second chamber they will once again have committee hearings. Reach out to Hillary if you want to testify remotely or in person.
- LGBTQIA+ inclusive curriculum and materials (ESB 5462) has a hearing on Wednesday at 10:30am in the House Committee on Education. Sign in PRO here.
- Paraeducator Fundamental Course of Study rules and timelines (HB 1277) has a hearing on Wednesday at 10:30 am in Senate Early Learning and K-12 Committee. Sign in PRO here.
- Legislator town halls are a great opportunity to raise our voices for ESP staffing and school funding in general. WEA is collecting a list of upcoming town halls; let us know if there’s one we should add! Looking for talking points? Reach out!
- More bills are likely to be added to the schedule
Revenue corner: Repeal of capital gains tax would cost schools $6 Billion
It’s shameful that one wealthy donor paid to get an initiative on the ballot to repeal a tax that only applies to a handful of the richest Washingtonians – but benefits our 1 million public-school students. A fiscal note released by the non-partisan WA Department of Revenue showed that if voters pass I-2109 and repeal the capital gains tax on profits of over $250,000 from the sale of stocks and bonds, schools would see $6 billion less in funding. Read more about the findings, or learn more about how the capital gains tax works.