Welcome to the 2020 legislative session! Below is our weekly Roll Call newsletter that we publish every Friday throughout session to give you the latest updates on what’s happening in education policy in Olympia.
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First, a huge thank you to everyone who took action in support of SB 6480, Senator Mullet’s bill to ensure all students in Washington have access to comprehensive counseling services in their schools. Over 85 of you contacted the House Education Committee requesting a hearing on the bill! Unfortunately, despite broad bipartisan support, including a 43-3 vote in the Senate, SB 6480 did not receive a public hearing in the House. Today is the opposite house policy cut off, which means that means that House bills that passed off the floor need to have been voted out of Senate policy committees by the end of today, and Senate bills need to have passed out of House policy committees. We are disappointed that the House Education Committee did not hear SB 6480, however, we also feel confident that the bill’s progress in the Senate this year has set the stage for success in the upcoming 2021 long session.
Meanwhile, each chamber released their draft supplemental budget earlier this week. The House version contained a very encouraging provision: over $50 million next year to fund the equivalent of an additional halftime counselor at high poverty schools across Washington. We know from research that high poverty schools with lower counselor to student ratios show higher graduation rates, higher attendance, and lower rates of suspension. In addition to additional funding for counselors, the House budget includes funding for dual language education, additional nurses at rural schools, homeless student support, and academic support for students who are or have previously been incarcerated.
On the Senate side, the budget draft includes funding to increase the special education multiplier as outlined in SB 6117, which Stand has supported throughout this session (that bill passed the Senate and awaits a hearing in House Appropriations). It also allocates funding to students who are in juvenile rehabilitation but focuses that funding on providing postsecondary opportunities. Both the House and Senate budgets include increased funding for paraeducator professional development, school safety, local effort assistance, and ECEAP.
The dust is still settling on what bills move on after today’s cut off, however, a few bills progressed earlier this week, including SB 6374, which would allow money from the dual credit scholarship pilot program to be used for apprenticeship materials, and SB 6066, which expands the availability of ethnic studies materials to grades K-6. Both bills now go to House Rules. We were also excited to see that SHB 2711, which seeks to improve educational outcomes for youth in foster care, passed in the Senate education committee and now moves to Ways & Means. Several other bills are still being voted on as I am writing this roll call, so I’ll be back next week with a full recap and a look ahead to the final weeks of session. Until then, thank you for your continued advocacy on behalf of Washington’s kids!
Want to read more about one of the bills mentioned above? Click here and type in the bill number: https://app.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/