As we close out week five of the 2022 legislative session, the halfway point is in sight. Bills have passed out of policy and fiscal committees, and those that received a “do pass” recommendation are starting to be heard on the House and Senate floors. If you’d like to follow along with floor votes, you can monitor the House and Senate calendars online. Each chamber has until next Tuesday, February 15, to vote bills off the floor. Those that pass will then go over to the opposite chamber for the second half of session.
Two of Stand’s priority bills to eliminate collection of parent pay, HB 2050 and SB 5535, were the focus of a Crosscut article that hit the virtual newsstands yesterday. This quote in particular stuck out to our team as a good summary how this practice affects families:
“At present, 242 families, including the Oakeses, owe a total of $1.1 million in outstanding fees for their children’s time in Washington’s juvenile prisons, in some cases years after these children have completed their sentences and returned home. The median charge is $537 per family, a not-insignificant amount for low-income households and enough to trigger wage garnishment.”
You can read the article here. Both HB 2050 and SB 5535 passed out of their respective fiscal committees last week and are now in Rules, where they wait to be brought to the floor for a vote. We are also excited that another bill related to eliminating legal financial obligations, HB 1412, passed out of the House yesterday with a 70-24 vote. We hope for similar outcomes for the parent pay bills soon.
I also have good news about the progress of bills to increase and protect funding for support staff such as counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers. In our last roll call, I reported that HB 1664 had passed out of House Appropriations, while SB 5595 was waiting for a vote in Ways & Means. Yesterday evening, the House passed HB 1664 with a 73-23 vote. SB 5595 passed out of Ways & Means on Monday and is waiting to be put on the Senate floor calendar for a vote.
Finally, I wanted to report on a few other bills we’re tracking that will increase students’ access to postsecondary opportunities. HB 1867, which will greatly improve how we collect data on what is working in dual credit programs, passed out of the House on Tuesday with a 95-1 vote. It has already been referred to Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education; we’re excited to follow its progress. Meanwhile, SB 5789 and HB 1835 each include innovative approaches to increasing financial aid and postsecondary attainment. SB 5789 passed off the Senate floor today with a unanimous vote, while HB 1835 has been added to the House floor calendar and should receive a vote soon.
Since we are nearing the halfway point of session, we’ll be holding a Facebook Live Legislative Update next Friday, February 18, at 12 pm. Stand’s Communications Director Katie Gustainis, our Executive Director Kia Franklin, and I will give an overview of the progress made so far and look ahead to what we can expect during the second half. You can register here: https://fb.me/e/19hf9Koz9
Until then, thank you for all you do for young people and their families. Have a great week!