Today is the 23rd day of the 60-day supplemental session. We are quickly approaching the first critical cut off (February 2) in which all bills must be passed out of their chamber of origin policy committee.
As we enter week three, the number of daily introduced bills begins to subside, there are fewer scheduled work sessions, and committees schedule more bills for a possible executive session. Teachable moment. Committees have three different types of activity: Public Hearing on proposed bills, Work Sessions on topics of interest, and Executive Session for bills to be moved out of committee.
Week three brought more opportunity for our dedicated board members to play an active role in the legislative process. Paraboard Chair Cathy Smith was able to testify in support of HB 2698 and SB 6388 (click the links to see the full hearing on the bills) during their public hearings on Thursday. The hearings were on proposed changes to the underlying language which was slightly different from the language that was finally passed out of the House committee on Monday afternoon (just a hint of the fast pace of language changes, three versions in four days!).
These bills make changes to HB 1115 passed the last session. Cathy’s testimony in support (click here to see her testimony HB 2698 / SB 6388), as well as that of other supportive stakeholders, will go a long way in ensuring that these bills pass the Legislature and get signed into law. Advancing these changes to HB 1115 is a high priority for the agency and a number of stakeholders that are concerned about addressing the initial training and education requirements for practicing paraeducators and making additional training dollars more available.
There are, however, other policy pieces in play that agency staff is watching closely. HB 1827 is a large piece of legislation that is slowly moving through the legislative process having recently been referred to the appropriations committee and scheduled for a public hearing. Staff is working with stakeholders to develop consensus around potential changes that will ensure system efficiency and building upon lessons learned from current regional recruitment efforts and candidate selection for workforce development grants.
A funding request that was included in the Governor’s Supplemental Budget regarding full funding for the implementation (PDF) of HB 1445 (passed the last session) is moving forward. Sponsors for a potential budget proviso have been identified in the Senate. Awareness in the House for the needed funding is being brought forth by agency staff, the Governor’s office, and outside stakeholders.
Another teachable moment. The budget is an actual piece of legislation with a specific bill number that must advance through the legislative process. The budget is broken into “provisos” that make explicit appropriations for explicit work or passed legislation. In order to get a change introduced to the budget (an amendment to the budget bill), specific proviso language must be drafted and introduced to the budget in the legislative process. These introductions typically take place in the respective fiscal committee, but may also take place on the chamber floor during the final vote on the proposed budget. In short, getting support from members to draft a specific proviso is a critical first step in making a change to the budget.
The landscape of potential changes will become much clearer following the upcoming house of origin fiscal committee cutoff. Again, this is a short session so the breadth of topics is already limited, and approaching cutoffs will limit that scope even further. As always, if you have any questions about this report, bills in the process, or the legislative process in general, please send those along to firstname.lastname@example.org.