Roll Call #5: COVID relief, buses, youth justice

Anti-Racist Resources, Legislation, Policy Brief | 02/12/2021

Virginia Barry
Policy & Government Affairs Manager, Stand for Children Washington

LEGISLATIVE ROLL CALL

Session Week #5

A summary of the bills impacting schools, students, and families this week.

We’re almost to the first mile marker of the long session: policy cut off. Monday is the last day for policy committees to refine and pass bills either to fiscal committees (House Appropriations or Senate Ways & Means) or, if they do not have implications for the state budget, directly to their respective Rules committees until they receive a floor vote. This was our last full week of policy committee meetings; after Monday, we should have a better idea of which bills are likely to move forward. 

READ OUR 2020 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

Even though we’re a few days out from our Week of Action, we continue to have great meetings with legislators over Zoom talk about priority legislation. Yesterday, Erin Lipsker - an educator, mom of three boys, and parent volunteer from Spokane - met with Senator Jeff Holy to tell him about two bills important to her: SB 5030 (protecting school counselors' time) and SB 5044 (implementing antiracism and inclusion training for educators). We talked with Erin about it on our Roll Call Live today that you can watch here

This was a unique legislator meeting that left an impression on Erin and our team. As she said today, "it was a big moment for me and I'll remember it for a very, very long time." Watch Erin's story here on Facebook.

The big news this week is that the Senate voted on HB 1368, which appropriates a total of $2.2 billion in federal funding for COVID-19 relief, including $714 million for K-12 schools. It also includes $50 million for childcare, $91 million in income assistance, $26 million for food assistance, and, as you might imagine, hundreds of millions for quelling the pandemic. This legislature has tried to move bills related to COVID-19 response as quickly as possible, so this bill has sprinted through both the House and Senate in exactly one month. Once both chambers meet to reconcile any differences in their respective versions of the bill, it can go to Governor Inslee’s desk for a signature.

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A few other bills we were excited to see move out of committee were HB 1295, which would improve education support and opportunities in youth justice settings, and HB 1208, which would make improvements to the learning assistance program (LAP). In the Senate, SSB 5128 received a do pass recommendation out of Ways & Means; this bill would allow districts to calculate transportation funding based on the last full year of in-person instruction. Stand supported this bill because funding is dictated by ridership, but busses have continued to run during school closures to bring students meals and education materials, and sometimes even serve as a public wifi hotspot, so ensuring this funding can be sustained even when students are not riding the bus is critical. 

We’ll be watching the last day of policy committees on Monday to see which bills get a vote before the deadline. In addition to several education bills, we’re excited that SB 5226 is scheduled for executive session on Monday in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice. SB 5226 would eliminate drivers’ license suspensions based on unpaid fines, a measurable step towards decriminalizing poverty and reducing involvement in the criminal justice system. 

We’ll be back next week with a summary of where things landed. Until then, we hope to see you at our next weekly “Take Action Tuesday”, online at 6pm.

Until next week,

Virginia 

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P.S. Today's Roll Call Live featured Erin's story and a lightning round discussion of the bills I mentioned above. You can watch it here on Facebook.

 

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