Ensure the state continues fully funding education. Support student health and safety legislation.

Issue Team Chair: Catherine Ahl – cathahl [at] – (360) 697-7924
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2019 Legislative Session Recap

The goal for this session was to ensure the state continues fully funding education and support student health and safety legislation. Unfortunately, the state is not fully funding education, so we will remove the word continues next year. This session ended with drama, a real nail-biting ending. SB 5091 increases funding for Special Education, but not fully according to most school districts passed on the last day. A last-minute bill, HB 2163, which transfers money from the Budget Stabilization Act for K-12 hold-harmless payments in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years passed on the last day. Our children and communities will be safer with passage of HB 1638, the MMR Vaccine bill, and HB 1216 which establishes a statewide school safety network including behavioral health. SB 5315 which would have provided more nurses, social workers, psychologists, and counselors to the schools did not pass, but we will continue to work for that next session.

The real nail biter came on the levy bill. The Senate passed SB 5313 with an amendment to provide additional funding to charter schools, which we opposed. The bill passed to the House. Meanwhile HB 2140, the House levy bill was amended in Ways & Means to remove the levy language and, among other items, allows money in a capital projects fund to be used for maintenance. After a good bit of dancing back and forth between the House and Senate, the House amended SB 5313, taking out the section on charter schools, and both Houses passed both SB 5313 and HB 2140 late at night on the last day of session.

    Bills the League Supported That Passed
    • HB 1216 Would establish statewide network for school safety with a state center, regional centers through the educational service districts, and an advisory committee and requires school districts to establish school-based threat assessment programs. The regional centers would also have specific duties, including behavioral health and school-based threat assessments. On the Senate floor HB 1216 was amended to include the language of SB 5141 that defines the duties of a School Resource Officer (SRO) and provides training for SROs if school districts choose to have them. Passed the House 83-14. Passed the Senate 47-0. Signed by the Governor on May 9, 2019. 
    • HB 1638 Eliminates the philosophical or personal objection for measles, mumps and rubella vaccines required to attend school. Passed the House, 57-40, 1 excused. Passed the Senate 25-22. Partially vetoed and signed by the Governor on May 10, 2019. 
    • SB 5091 Increases special education funding by increasing the allocation for each special-education student and also would allocate additional funding to schools with students whose needs warrant costlier, individualized education programs. Passed the Senate 46-0, 3 excused. Passed the House 97-0. Signed by the Governor on May 13, 2019. 
    • SB 5141 Defines the duties of a School Resource Officer (SRO) and requires school districts choosing to have a SRO to ensure that the SRO goes through the training described in the bill. Added as an amendment to HB 1216 (see above). 
    • SSB 5313 Allows a district to levy at the lesser of $2.50 per $1000 of assessed value or $2,500 per pupil for school districts with fewer that 40,000 students ($3000 per pupil with 40,000 or more students) and provides local effort assistance. Passed the Senate 25-23. Passed the House 53-45. Signed by the Governor on May 21, 2019. 
    • SB 5514 Requires first responder agencies to notify all known schools in the vicinity, including private schools, if there is a situation for which an evacuation or lockdown appears reasonably necessary. Passed the Senate 48-0, 1 excused. Passed the House 92-0. Signed by the Governor on April 19, 2019. 
    Bills the League Supported That Did Not Pass
    • SB 5315 Would have increased the number of nurses, social workers, psychologists, counselors and other student support staff who support the mental, behavioral and physical health and safety of students. 
    • SB 5395 Would have required comprehensive sexual health education in all schools. The Senate passed this bill 28-21, and it was heard in the House Education Committee on March 12 but no vote was taken. This would have required a curriculum that is evidence-informed, inclusive for all students, age appropriate, and is consistent with the state health and physical education learning standards. School districts must grant a parent’s request to have their child excused from this class. 
    • SB 5532 Requires that special-education advisory committees be created in each school district, access to advocates to help families navigate the special-education system, and professional development for all teachers. 
    • SCR 8405 Would have stated that the cut-off dates shall not apply to matters relating to K-12 education funding.

    • SB 5841 Would have eliminated the philosophical or personal objection for all vaccines required to attend school. We supported this bill over HB 1638 because it covered all vaccines, not just measles, mumps and rubella.
    For those of you wanting to know more about Special Education funding and problems with Levies and Levy Equalization watch this excellent work session by the Senate Ways & Means Committee including presentations by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), school superintendents, a school psychologist, and a special education teacher. 

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