Speak up for recess!
Coming up this week – take action now!
Lawmakers have until March 8 to get bills passed out of their chamber of origin so we’ll see lots of action on the House & Senate floors this week.
- SB 5257 ensuring a minimum of 30 minutes of recess for elementary students and discouraging using recess or other physical movement as punishment passed on the Senate floor on Monday night and is now scheduled for hearing in the House Education committee on Wednesday March 1. We now need to make sure the House doesn’t weaken any of the provisions in the bill. Sign in PRO.
- The bill ensuring universal screening for highly capable students (SB 5072) passed in the Senate is now scheduled for hearing in the House Education Committee on Wednesday. Sign in PRO.
- HB 1200 to ensure public employers share basic employee contact information with unions is still not scheduled for a House floor vote. We need to take action now – send an email to your Representatives here now.
- Education Support Professionals (ESPs) need wage increases but we must convince lawmakers of the importance of investing in ESP wages and now! Can you meet – virtually or in person – with legislators to stress how important it is to increase ESP pay? Let us know!
If you’re interested in testifying on these bills, please contact WEA Political Organizer Hillary Hunt.
WEA member who testified this week: Carrie Suchy (Franklin Pierce EA) testified on changes to special education access and evaluation requirements.
If you provided testimony before the legislature, we’d like to do a shout-out about you! Please contact WEA Political Organizer Hillary Hunt.
Nearly 100 WEA leaders gather for 2023 Lobby Day
Our strength is our numbers, and when nearly 100 WEA leaders from across the state gathered in Olympia on Monday for 2023 Lobby Day, that strength was clear. Educators talked with more than 65 Senators and Representatives about all things education, from COLAs and Special Education to higher ed faculty pay and retiree benefits. Together we secured new commitments from lawmakers to support educators and our students, particularly students with disabilities, and we strengthened our connection to them in ways that will improve education for years to come.
Tracking our priorities
- The bill on PK-12 educator COLAs (HB 1732) passed out of House Appropriations on Monday and now awaits scheduling for a floor vote. The Senate version (SB 5650) passed out of Ways & Means on Wednesday and also awaits floor scheduling.
- The isolation and restraint bill (HB 1479) has been amended in Appropriations addressing several of our concerns and the bill includes professional development around de-escalation. It passed Friday in House Appropriations and awaits scheduling for the floor.
- We also saw changes to the Transitional Kindergarten bill (HB 1550) that begin to better align funding with school district costs and to provide a path for elementary educators to teach in these programs. This bill continues to be a work in progress. It passed House Appropriations and awaits floor action.
- Increased funding for Special Education (HB 1436 and SB 5311) continues to move forward, with 5311 passed in Ways & Means and 1436 passing in House Appropriations this week. Both now awaiting scheduling for floor votes. SB 5311, while not everything we hoped for, is the best bill in the running right now. We’ll continue efforts to improve these bills.
- We had concerns about arbitrary deadlines to speed up timelines for Special Education plans in HB 1305 and after WEA members raised our voices, lawmakers amended the bill so that if it’s not funded by June this year, the deadlines aren’t implemented. The bill is awaiting a floor vote.
- Bills setting policies for school library programs and enhancing media literacy and digital citizenship in schools (SSB 5102 and SSB 5626) passed Ways and Means and are now awaiting scheduling for a Senate floor vote.
- Free school meals for all K-12 students (HB 1238) passed House Appropriations with bi-partisan support in a scaled back version. The new version would allow our state to feed about 600,000 of our state’s 1,000,000 K-12 students through meals at no charge.
- The bill to support teacher residencies and early career supports (SHB 1565) passed in House Appropriations on Thursday although the scope of the bill has narrowed. It now awaits scheduling for a floor vote.
- Plan 1 benefit increases (HB 1057 & SB 5350) continue to move forward. 5350 passed Ways & Means on Monday and 1057 passed Appropriations Thursday. Both await scheduling for a floor vote.
- The Washington Future Fund bill that creates “baby bonds” (HB 1094 / SB 5125) did not make it past today’s fiscal committee cutoff and is dead for this session.