This has been a wild week for the Washington PTA. The Senate versions of Breakfast after the Bell SB 5437 and Social and Emotional Learning SB 5688, have passed out to Senate Rules before the cut-off.Our legislative champion in the Senate, Senator Steve Litzow, sponsored both bills and his efforts on behalf of Washington's kids have been successful thus far.
Over in the House, Representative Zack Hudgins version of Breakfast after the Bell, HB 1295, has also been moved out of committee and into House Rules. Sadly, Representative Senn's version of Social and Emotional Learning, HB 1760, was not moved forward in committee.
The next big challenge will occur this coming week when all bills must be voted off the Senate floor and over for hearings in the State House of Representatives. This is a difficult session for new initiatives, even ones that are proven effective. If you get the chance, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org to thank them for their efforts!
Proponents of Change for Education Capital Budget hit a roadblock - key bills not moving forward.
Whereas other segments of our "Top 5" priorities experienced success this week, supporters of change in how we allocate and obtain capital funding dollars for schools hit the skids. Although Senate Bill 5859 by Senator Jamie Pedersen had been moving forward with substantial bipartisan support, the bill failed to be voted out of committee on Friday. This bill would have reduced the threshold requirements for school districts to qualify for matching funds for projects. Current law discriminates against larger, high growth districts. This bil l is an attempt to strike a balance in the name of fairness. The statutory changes offered by the bill are unlikely to be enacted this session. However, and we stress the "However" quite strongly here - this does not mean that parts of the bill will not make their way into the Senate's proposed Capital Budget later this year. Consider this to be "Schroedinger's Bill" - it is both alive and dead at the same time.
House Bill 1941 on the other hand, is truly dead. This bill would have reduced the bond requirements from 60% voter approval to a simple majority in general elections. The bill was imperfect - it only offered a change for November general elections and it split many allies in the education community. Some representatives saw the proposal as at least a start in the process to have a bill moving forward while others saw challenges with only allowing for a November vote. PTA leaders testified on behalf of the bill in committee while urging amendments to allow for more opportunities to run bond issues bey ond the originally offered November date. Supporters have declared they will continue to work this issue during the interim.
Rep. Gerry Pollet's Higher Education Tuition Planning Proposal Gaining Traction in the House.
House Bill 1238 by Representative Pollet is one of many bills that looked at finding solutions to the rising costs of higher education tuition in Washington State. Pollet's bill aims to task the Washington Student Achievement Council (WASC) to develop a roadmap with the ultimate goal of restricting higher education costs to no more than 10% of the state's median family income. The study requires WASC to develop a series of potential solutions to the problem in a report due no later thanDecember 15, 2016. &n bsp;What sets this bill apart from the others is the comprehensive scope and direction in developing a plan to control price hikes. The bill passed out of committee and is currently awaiting action in House Rules.
-Washington State PTA, March 2, 2015