Today marks the second big deadline of legislative session. “Fiscal cutoff” is the deadline for bills with budget impact to be voted out of a fiscal committee. This week has truly been a marathon of bill hearings and committee votes (called “executive session” in legislative lingo) going well into the night. These will continue all day today until the deadline of 5pm.
As you read this, Stand’s Debt Free Youth Justice priority bill – SB 5474 – still needs to be voted out of executive session. It is scheduled for a vote today, just squeaking up to the deadline. The bill was heard in Ways and Means on Saturday, February 18 (yes, the legislature even works on the weekends around cutoff time!), and the highlight of the hearing was definitely Jacob, who broke down the long-term impact of owing tens of thousands of dollars before you turn 18. Please take a moment to listen to Jacob’s 90-second testimony!
In less rosy news, Stand’s other priority bill SB 5408 to sustain and expand Ninth Grade Success Teams was not scheduled for a hearing or vote in Ways & Means, despite powerful advocacy from school leaders around the state. We are not giving up though! There is a path forward through the two-year state budget and we will share opportunities for advocacy in the coming days!
Thank you to everyone who rallied and took action on one of our support bills – SB 5434 to “raise the age” of juvenile court jurisdiction from 8 – one of the country’s lowest – to 13. You sent dozens of emails to legislators (and many of you indicated your support even though your legislator didn’t sit on Ways & Means!). Your voices joined a loud call for evidence-based public policy, rooted in best practice, brain science, and positive youth development. Unfortunately, the bill was not brought up for a hearing in Ways and Means before today’s Fiscal cutoff and will not move forward this session. However, thanks to your advocacy, lawmakers know how important it is to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction and are looking into keeping the conversation going via a potential budget strategy. We will keep you in the loop as things develop – stay tuned!
Here’s an update on the status of other bills we’ve mentioned in the last few weeks:
- HB 1316 and SB 5048 were both moved out of their fiscal committees; together they set the state on a path towards expanding access to the Running Start and College in the High School dual credit programs. In addition, HB 1146, which would strengthen communication with students and parents about available dual credit options, has already passed the House and is awaiting a first hearing in the Senate.
- SB 5243 to strengthen High School and Beyond planning has passed out of Ways & Means, and is in the Rules committee. It will need to be “pulled” from Rules for a vote on the Senate floor by March 8.
- HB 1479 to eliminate isolation and restraint in schools is scheduled for a vote today in House Appropriations.
As you can tell, things are moving quickly and the outcome of some important pieces of legislation is still uncertain. We’ll be updating you soon with a full report and how you can take action to keep top priorities moving forward!
Thank you for being in this work with us!