With one week left in the 105-day 2017 regular legislative session, which ends April 23rd, operating budget negotiators have made no progress towards a final budget deal. This mean, yes, a “not so special, special session.” Neither chamber has the requisite 50 or 25 votes needed to pass a budget that also has the revenue to sustain it. Keep in mind, even without McCleary and the education funding problem, negotiations over the 2017-19 operating budget started with an approximately $1 billion shortfall, based solely on maintenance level requirements and caseload increases.
While rumors swirl and lobbyists take bets on when the legislature will “sine die,” House and Senate leadership are expected to meet again Wednesday to make some determinations about what the special session would look like and how it would operate, so more may be known after then. Only the Governor can call a special session, and when it is called, the Legislature then determines the topics to be considered. Bills that didn’t pass both chambers are typically considered dead, until they become part of the end game, of course.
Last week, however, both chambers worked to get bills out of their respective bodies by the April 12th 5 p.m. cutoff. Unlike the big cutoff last month, when Senate Republicans surprised everyone by bringing the levy cliff bill to the floor, the Senate adjourned just shy of the 5 p.m. deadline and the House worked into the night on the transportation and capital budget bills.
The eight education funding negotiators are meeting, ostensibly to define the size of the education funding box and what will be in and out of the box. Negotiators are close-lipped about details, and it is difficult to know which items may have been ticked off as agreed upon, if any, at this time.
Status of Top Five Legislative Priorities – Update & Focus for Members this Week
Social and Emotional Learning
- Focus for members: HB 1377, which would create definitions and collaborative time for school counselors, psychologists, and social workers, is in Senate Ways & Means. Contact Senators Braun, Rossi, Ranker and Rolfes about the importance of funding HB 1377 and continuing the work of the SEL benchmarks work group through a budget proviso in the operating budget.
Amply Funding Basic Education
- Focus for members: Ask legislators from both chambers to come to the table to begin negotiating the operating budget and ask them specifically to amply fund basic education. Refer to the WSPTA vision statement for Washington’s Education System for more details.
Closing the Opportunity Gap
- Focus for members: This is closely linked to ample funding. Remind legislators that student learn at different speeds and in different ways, and that additional funding for academic and non-academic support will help close the opportunity gap.
Standards for Paraeducators (HB 1115)
- The House concurred April 17th with the changes made to HB 1115 in the Senate. The bill now moves into the process of delivery to the Governor for signature.
- Focus for members: Write the Governor and ask him to sign HB 1115.
- FAX: 360-753-4110 | Phone: 360-902-4111
- Mail: Governor Jay Inslee
- Office of the Governor
- P.O. Box 40002
- Olympia, WA 98504-0002
- Email information:
- . Then follow the prompts to send an attachment.
Breakfast after the Bell (HB 1508)
- Focus for members: The bill remains in Senate Rules. Watch Grassroots Blog for current action information.
2017 WSPTA Supported Issues
Improving Educational Outcomes for Foster Children
- SSB 5241 has been delivered to the Governor.
Engaging Families in Student Success
- SHB 1618 remains in the Senate Ways & Means Committee.
- Focus for members: Contact your legislators on the Senate Ways & Means Committee and share why this bill is important and ask them to pass it. One way to think about it, regardless of whether they go with a weighted per pupil or a prototypical funding model, every business has some form of customer service, regardless of the type of business. We’d like them to think of the family and community engagement coordinator as just an integral part of a school as a customer service representative or department is to a business.
Post-Secondary/Higher Education Access and Affordability
- Most policy legislation related to access and affordability has failed to pass this session.
Removing Barriers to Implementing Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP)
- Focus for members: Expansion of ECEAP will be handled in the operating budget. Let your voices be heard that investments in early education are critical for closing the opportunity gap.
Restorative Justice and School Safety
- No action
Week in Review
Once again, the House passed a bill to delink statewide assessments for graduation purposes. This time it was SB 5639. The bill would keep assessments in place for federal accountability purposes, but would remove the requirement to meet a certain score to “pass” the assessment. The bill has been actively opposed in the Senate, led primarily by the business community’s Washington Roundtable, along with Stand for Children, and the League of Education Voters.
Focus for members: Call or email your Senator and tell him/her to support SB 5639, and that students’ futures shouldn’t be determined by a single test.
The Week Ahead
The House and Senate are meeting to decide whether to agree with changes from the opposite chamber or to send the amended bill into dispute or call for a conference committee. At this time, none of the bills we’ve been tracking, beyond the budget bills, are likely to go into a conference committee.
The Bill Signing Process
The Governor has five days following the day the bill is delivered, not counting Sundays, to sign or veto a bill that comes to his desk before April 18. That means that bills delivered by April 17 must be signed by April 22. However, the Governor gets 20 days, not counting Sundays, to sign bills that arrive within five days of the end of the regular session, which is April 23. So bills that arrive April 18 and afterwards from the concurrence/ dispute process will get a review of up to 20 days. In Washington, a Governor’s signature is not necessary for a bill to go into effect. The Governor may line-item veto only in budget bills; in general legislation the Governor may veto a complete section, but may not veto subsections or single lines of bill language.
Bills will go into effect 90 days after the end of the regular session, unless an effective date was included in the bill. That means that most legislation will be effective July 23, 2017.
Regarding special sessions, only the Governor can call the Legislature into a special session. Special sessions are for a maximum of 30 days. The topics during the special session are typically agreed to by the leadership in both chambers in advance of the Governor calling a special session. When a special session is in progress, most legislators will be sent back to their districts to avoid the per diem costs associated with their stay in Olympia.
WSPTA Legislative Consultant