Today is the 40th day of the 60-day supplemental session. We have recently passed a major milestone in the legislative process with the chamber of origin cutoff that took place on February 14th. All bills not passed off the floor of their chamber of origin are now considered dead. At this point, bills have flipped and must face the complete legislative process in the chamber opposite of their origin. Committee action will return to full swing in the coming week and bills have until the 23rd to be passed out of their assigned policy committee.
In terms of agency priorities, the focus has become laser-like. With only 20 days left in the session, there is an increased need for targeted, direct, and impactful advocacy regarding budget and policy priorities.
With only one legislative vehicle left to address needed technical changes regarding the implementation of new training and education requirements for paraeducators, it is imperative that SB 6388 is shepherded carefully in the final days of the session. This bill (the House companion, HB 2698, failed to advance out of its assigned fiscal committee) has the policy elements necessary to provide relief to practicing paraeducators, expand accessibility for parapipeline scholarship resources, and provide further assurance that school districts won’t be faced with implementing training that they do not have the resources necessary to implement. With only one vehicle left, interested stakeholders will focus intently on its passage. This piece of legislation has become a priority in both chambers, the Governor’s office, and frontline practicing paraeducators and school districts. At this point, the potential for final passage seems optimistic.
There is some speculation that the funding element of the bill that was associated with the House companion may show up in the budget. The last publicly available version of this language provided $500,000 to OSPI to work in collaboration with PESB to develop and update materials associated with paraeducator subject matter certificates.
Other important policy considerations are found in HB 1827. Agency staff has been working closely with the sponsor of this bill, other members of the Legislature, and impacted stakeholders to raise a number of questions about the proposed language.
Staff, with input from board members and stakeholders, are actively seeking potential language changes that would retain PESB’s role in administering the Alternative Route Block Grant Program, the educator retooling conditional loan program, the parapipeline program, the Recruiting Washington Teachers program, and the newly proposed Career and Technical Education conditional scholarship program.
Staff is also, in collaboration with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, seeking potential changes that would put PESB in the lead on managing regional recruitment pilots and a new program targeted towards the expansion of Alternative Route programs within ESDs.
Agency budget priorities remain tightly focused on increased funding for HB 1445, as proposed by the Governor’s office. There is an indication that the budget will be released on the 19th. This will be our first look at the Senate budget. A great early indicator would be that the funding is included in the first draft of the budget. It is harder to get something added to the initial release and easier to protect language that is already included. There is still some discussion around the exact language of the proviso and how specific it may or may not be in terms of what funding is to be used for specific portions of the policy outlined in the originating bill.
The final days of session are ahead and once the budget is released it will consume much legislative attention. As always, if you have any questions about the legislature or this update, please send those to firstname.lastname@example.org.