We are here! The end of the first week of the 66th legislative session. Friday the 18th marks the 5th day of the 105-day session that is set to end on April 28. This session is the first of the current biennium. Often called the long session (compared to the 65-day short session on even years), this is the time where the legislature welcomes new members and sets the budget for the upcoming biennium. However, for the Board, this session began just a little early and got a great leg up on advancing our legislative priorities!
A special thanks to Board Members and RWT students and teachers that actively participated in the second annual legislative hill climb. This was our biggest climb yet; we had 32 people on the capitol campus engaging directly with members and legislative stakeholders. These initial conversations are already proving fruitful as agency staff was able to follow up with specific members and gain support for our agency’s requested legislation and budget priorities.
The session kicked off with a number of festivities designed to welcome new members and set the stage for the remainder of the session. On Monday we saw the swearing in of new members and the opening ceremonies in both the Senate and the House. I always enjoy this ceremony and the vibrant and passionate energy that new members bring to the process, reflected in their first addresses to the chamber as sworn members of the legislature. On Tuesday, Governor Jay Inslee delivered his standing State of the State address, although there were specific security concerns raised by Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib. This illustrates that despite the excitement and fanfare, there are still some difficult and lingering issues to be addressed in the legislature.
The first days of a long session are typically filled with work sessions (detailed and in-depth reviews of issues and policies), and this session is no different. There were some helpful and informative work sessions in both the House and Senate education committees. The House hosted an overview of Washington’s K12 system, as well as a review of the roles and responsibilities for K12 education. (Watch closely and you will see a great presentation from Alex.) The House committee finished its first week of business with an overview of education reform in Washington State. The Senate looked more closely at career connected learning and building multiple pathways in our state’s education system. As this week wraps up, agendas will likely include more public hearings on proposed bills. Soooo… stay tuned!
This week served our agency well in that staff were able to focus intently on our agency’s requested legislation regarding testing barriers. We made intentional and targeted efforts to further raise awareness among legislators regarding the need for this bill and asking for their sponsorship of the proposed bill. Every bill starts on a clipboard with a blank signature sheet. Members must directly and personally sign their support through a signature. Once that is wrapped up, the bill gets dropped in the “hopper” and begins the process of being given a bill number and assigned to a policy committee.
As always, if you have any questions about this update of the legislative process, send those along directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.