Today we wrap the first week of the 2022 legislative session. For the second year in a row, we began Monday by loading our Zoom backgrounds and settling into our desk chairs at home for another round of virtual committee hearings. Legislators wasted no time getting straight to the issues, and we were excited to see a number of bills on our priority list heard during these first committee meetings.
First, I encourage you to check out the video from Thursday’s public hearing in the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation committee, where we heard testimony on SB 5535. This bill, sponsored by Senator Claire Wilson and requested by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, would repeal the “parent pay” statute, a forty-five year old law that requires parents or caregivers to pay Juvenile Rehabilitation to cover the cost of a child’s incarceration.We heard powerful testimony from several advocates including Rachel Sottile, President & CEO of the Center for Children & Youth Justice, and our own Executive Director, Kia Franklin. You can watch a recording of the hearing via the clip below; Kia's testimony for SB 5535 begins at the 1:11:25 mark.
Also, thank you to the 40 advocates who took action yesterday urging legislators to repeal Parent Pay. We’re grateful to see our community of volunteers from across the state join us in support of students and families who are impacted by the criminal legal system. If you want to join them, you can urge legislators to support SB 5535 using this link.
Another top priority for Stand is to ensure that students have access to support that addresses mental health, academics, and postsecondary planning. We testified in support of two bills, SB 5595and HB 1664, that would put guardrails around the funding for school counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers, to ensure that districts use that funding for those positions. The bill also phases in an increase in school nurses and reduces the class size for skill centers providing career and technical education. Both bills are scheduled to receive a vote in executive session next week.
It’s been a packed first few days of session. Our offices are closed Monday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When we come back, we’ll be ready to hear SB 5535’s companion bill, HB 1897, which has a hearing in the House Children Youth & Families committee on Wednesday, January 19. We’ll also be watching hearings for SB 5789, to establish the Washington career and college pathways innovation challenge grant program, SB 5719, which reduces dual credit costs for students, and SB 5720, which focuses on student financial literacy education.
Thanks for following along! I’ll be back next Friday with a report on Week Two.