April 17, 2023

One Week Left in 68th Legislative Session

Prepared by Marie Sullivan, 

April 12th was the final day for bills to pass out of the opposite chamber, with just a few exceptions. On Thursday, House and Senate legislators turned their floor action attention to changes made in the opposite chamber. Agreed-to changes were marked and passed for concurrence, sending them along to the Governor’s desk for signing. Changes not agreed to ended up in dispute, with the house of origin asking the other chamber to recede from the changes. The operating and transportation budgets went to conference committees.

All bills can be searched here.

Here’s a look at the bills that died last week:

  • HB 1146 would have required school districts to provide information about dual credit programs and any financial assistance available to reduce dual credit and exam costs for students and their families.
  • HB 1277 would have required the PESB to update rules to improve the consistency and quality of the implementation of the fundamental courses of study for paraeducators.
  • HB 1332 would have required all school districts to incorporate a tribal sovereignty curriculum into their social studies curricula by September 1, 2024, and would have required school districts to incorporate materials about the history, culture, and government of their nearest federally recognized tribe or tribes into their social studies curricula by September 1, 2026, and to consult with the tribes about meeting the requirement. Would have included a grant program for districts and tribes to help them implement the act.
  • HB 1589 would have prohibited gas companies serving more than 500,000 retail gas customers in Washington from extending gas service to any commercial or residential location that did not receive or file an application for gas service as of June 30, 2023.
  • HB 1714 would have allowed school districts to apply for and receive financial literacy education professional development grants for each of the three school years in which the grants are available.
  • SB 5019 would have removed classified staff providing student and staff safety from the calculation of a school district’s demonstrated ratio of full-time physical, social, and emotional support staff to full-time equivalent students for purposes of funding allocations.

Special education

ESHB 1436 was amended on the Senate floor April 12th. The amended bill would increase the cap on enrollment to 15% and would increase the multipliers as follows:

Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, a high-need student is eligible for safety net awards if the student’s IEP costs exceed:

  • 2 times the average per-pupil expenditure for school districts with fewer than 1000 full-time equivalent students;
  • or 2.2 times the average per-pupil expenditure for school districts with 1000 or more full-time equivalent students.

The bill also would direct OSPI to develop an allocation and cost accounting methodology to ensure basic education general apportionment funding is prorated and allocated to a student’s special education program and accounted for before calculating special education excess cost when services are provided outside of the general education setting. Beginning January 1, 2024, and every odd-numbered year thereafter, the Superintendent of Public Instruction must provide the Legislature with an accounting of prorated general apportionment allocations provided to special education programs broken down by school district.

As passed the Senate, the Office of the Education Ombuds must delegate and certify at least one special education ombuds to serve each educational service district region, subject to appropriations for that purpose. A special education ombuds must be appropriate to the community in which they serve and hold the same qualifications as other education ombuds. The Office of Education Ombuds may not contract with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, a school, a school district, an educational service district, or an employee of those entities for the provision of special education ombuds services.

In addition, two studies from HB 1436 as it passed the House remain:

  • OSPI is required to annually review data from local education agencies, including the percentage of students receiving special education services, to ensure there is not a disproportionate identification of students. OSPI must also provide technical assistance to school districts and professional development opportunities to local education agencies and community partners to promote inclusionary practices and help safeguard against overidentification and other issues related to disproportionality.
  • The Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC) and the State Auditor must conduct a performance audit of the state’s special education system. The study’s findings and recommendations must be reported to the Governor and the Legislature by November 30, 2024.

Setting up some showdowns: Transition to Kindergarten and Transportation

The Senate policy committee amended 2SHB 1550, establishing a “transition to kindergarten” program, and passed it off the Senate floor on April 12 by a vote of 39-10. House bill sponsors are displeased with the Senate changes and are expected to refuse to concur.

E2SSB 5174 would create a safety net transportation grant program to reimburse school districts for demonstrated excess costs for special passengers, defined as students with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, and students in the foster care system.

As amended in the House, the bill also would require school districts that contract with private companies to provide transportation services to ensure their contractors offer SEBB-like health benefits and pension benefits to eligible employees. The Senate refused to concur with the House amendments and has asked the House to recede from its changes. Funding for the program could be done simply in the budget as a new grant program for the biennium.

All bills on these lists can be searched here.

Pass Go and Collect $200

The following bills passed the opposite chamber last week or were amended in the opposite chamber and received concurrence from their house of origin, so are good to go:

  • HB 1013 would establish the Regional Apprenticeship Preparation Pilot Program with five program sites at ESDs located statewide, two of which would be in Eastern Washington.
  • HB 1143 would establish a 10-day waiting period to purchase or transfer a firearm.
  • HB 1170 would direct the Department of Ecology to update the state’s integrated climate response strategy.
  • HB 1176 would create the Washington Climate Corps Network to provide climate-related service opportunities for young adults and veterans.
  • HB 1181 would add climate change and resiliency as an element to the Growth Management Act.
  • HB 1207 would direct OSPI to develop model student handbook language that includes information about policies and complaint procedures related to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying, and would require school districts to include this language in their handbooks and publish it on their websites beginning in the 2024-25 school year. The bill replaces the term “emergency expulsion” with “emergency removal.”
  • HB 1216 would create an expedited clean energy siting process, including early and consistent consultation with federally recognized Indian tribes.
  • HB 1230 would require school districts to make information about safe storage of medication and firearms available on school district and school websites using Department of Health information.
  • HB 1232 would require only College Bound Scholarship eligible students seeking direct admission to a public or private four-year institution of higher education to graduate with at least a C grade point average.
  • HB 1346 would establish the Purple Star Designation to recognize school districts that demonstrate educational and social-emotional support to students of military service members as they face transitions to a new school.
  • HB 1658 would authorize high school students aged 16 and over to earn up to two elective credits through paid work experience if specified requirements are met.
  • SB 5048 would establish a no-fee College in the High School course program for all students in grades 9-12 at public high schools.
  • SB 5065 would encourage school districts to share information about bone marrow donations.
  • SB 5072 would require school districts to offer universal screening of all students for possible placement in highly capable programs.
  • SB 5078 would hold the firearms industry accountable for complying with state firearms laws.
  • SB 5127 would make personal information of a child enrolled or who has been enrolled in a school district contained in any records, including correspondence, held by the district exempt from public disclosure requirements.
  • SB 5243 would make changes to the High School and Beyond Plan and would direct OSPI to evaluate a single online platform for the plans.
  • SB 5257 would require elementary schools (K-5 or K-6) to offer at least 30 minutes of recess within the school day unless the school day is shorter than the regular school day as established by the school calendar.
  • SB 5617 would require interdistrict cooperative agreements between all participating school districts in a skill center to stipulate that any course equivalencies approved by OSPI or a host district must be honored by other participating districts and would require OSPI to review CTE course equivalency implementation and to provide technical assistance to districts to ensure CTE course equivalencies are being consistently offered for academic credit.

Coming back for concurrence/dispute

  • HB 1238 would require certain public schools serving grades K-4 to provide breakfast and lunch each school day at no charge to any student who requests these meals. The bill will return to the House for discussion about the Senate amendments.
  • HB 1308 would establish a performance-based graduation pathway option. As passed the Senate, the bill would limit the performance-based pathway to meet English Language Arts and math learning standards. The House may not concur, and the bill may return to the Senate for further amendments.
  • HB 1316 would increase Running Start students to be funded up to a combined maximum enrollment of 1.4 FTE and would direct OSPI to adopt rules to fund student enrollment in Running Start courses during the summer academic term up to a maximum of 10 college credits per student per summer academic term. The House is expected to concur with the Senate changes.
  • HB 1777 would authorize state agencies or school districts to independently enter into performance-based contracts for energy equipment and services under certain conditions, and to enter into “energy as a service” contracts. Returns to the House for concurrence.
  • SB 5355 would require school districts to provide instruction on sex trafficking prevention and identification at least once between grades 7 and 12, beginning no later than the 2025-26 school year. Returns to the Senate for review of the House amendments.
  • SB 5403 would allow school districts to establish a depreciation sub fund that can be used to reserve funds for future facility and equipment needs. As amended on the House floor, the requirement limits to sub funds only to school districts with fewer than 2,000 students.

Do NOT pass Go

These bills are in dispute:

  • HB 1044 would provide capital financial assistance to small school districts with demonstrated funding challenges. As amended in the Senate, SB 5126 (common school trust revenue) was added to the House bill. The House has asked the Senate to recede; the Senate is not willing to recede so we’ll see if the bill passes this session or not.
  • HB 1240 would prohibit assault weapons. The House has refused to concur with the changes made by the Senate on the floor, deeming one of the amendments outside the title of the bill. It is now returned to the Senate for further discussion.

What we’re watching this week

The Legislature is set to adjourn “sine die” on Sunday, April 23rd. We should see final operating, capital, and transportation budgets late in the week, and will be reviewing for the impact on upcoming school years, new grant programs, etc.

On April 12, just outside of the 10-day window requiring bills to pass by a two-third’s majority, 20 Senate Democrats introduced SB 5770, a measure that would change the voter-approved property tax growth factor for state and local governments from 1% to 3% and would change the definition of inflation from the implicit price deflator to urban Consumer Price Index. The state property tax was lifted in 2017 to help with the McCleary fix and expires in calendar year 2023. This bill would take effect in calendar year 2024. The bill hasn’t been scheduled for a public hearing. Here’s a Seattle Times story on various revenue bills.

In addition, pressure has mounted on budget writers to not decrease funding to school districts due to a loss of regionalization and/or experience factor. And the House offered LEA support for this school year due to unanticipated losses related to increased property assessed value. The Senate didn’t provide a soft landing for regionalization or the experience factor and didn’t offer the LEA funding.

Finally, the House and Senate had different proposals for special education, so either concurrence on HB 1436 or the conference committee operating budget will show what the final numbers are on special education funding.

Category: Advocacy , Legislative

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