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Session Recap: March 2020

Release Date: 

March 9, 2020

Recently, the focus has been on floor action and budget negotiations and last week's Opposite House Cutoff (the deadline by when bills must be passed out of the second house). Bills that did not pass are considered “dead” unless they are revived as “Necessary to Implement the Budget” (NTIB).

Bills that have made it this far are very likely to become law; however, there are a few remaining steps in the legislative process:

  • If the second house made amendments to a bill before passing it, then the first house has to decide whether it agrees with the amendments. If the two houses do not concur, the bill may die unless the second house recedes from the amendments or the two houses reach an agreement through conference. 
  • The Governor may veto an entire bill or any section of it (Legislature can override with two-thirds vote of both houses).
  • Budget decisions can make a bill void or impossible to implement. Many bills have “null and void” clauses and/or “subject to appropriations” language, so if the budget does not support the bill, the initiative cannot be implemented. In addition, last minute policy changes can be made through budget proviso language.

The focus of the final week of session will be budget negotiations as the House and Senate seek to reconcile their respective proposals leading to the final agreed upon “conference committee” budget. There will also be floor action on remaining items not subject to the previous cutoff deadlines (e.g., NTIB bills, gubernatorial appointments, etc.). Session is scheduled to adjourn on Thursday, March 12 (Sine Die).

Hot topics

  • Sexual health education
    • The House passed the sexual health education bill (ESSB 5395) after extensive floor debate, with over 200 proposed amendments. In the end, the House adopted the House Education Committee striker with no other amendments and passed the bill in the early hours of Thursday morning with a party line vote of 56 Yeas / 40 Nays / 2 Excused.
  • Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) response
    • On Monday, Governor Inslee gave a press conference with the state Department of Health (DOH), Emergency Management Department, and Superintendent Chris Reykdal to discuss the state’s response to COVID-19. 
    • On Monday, DOH gave a work session on the Statewide Coronavirus Response to the Senate Ways & Means Committee. 
    • On Wednesday, OSPI (Chris Reykdal and Martin Mueller), SBE (Randy Spaulding), and WSSDA (Tim Garchow) gave an Education System Briefing on Responding to Emerging Questions about Coronavirus to the House Education Committee.
    • On Thursday, Governor Inslee gave another press conference with Department of Health, Insurance Commissioner, and Labor and Industries. 
    • Both houses quickly passed legislation (EHB 2965) to ensure $125M in emergency funding is appropriated for the response from state, local, and tribal entities.
    • For up-to-date information and guidance, see DOH and OSPI.

Recap of this week’s activity
Signed in support (weekend fiscal committees):

  • SSB 6521 - Creating an innovative learning pilot program.
  • ESHB 2660 - Increasing the availability of school meals provided to public school students at no student cost.
  • ESHB 2455 - Supporting access to child care for parents who are attending high school or working toward completion of a high school equivalency certificate.
  • HB 2853 - Promoting the effective and efficient administration of the Washington state charter school commission.

Member Harium Martin-Morris’s gubernatorial appointment was officially confirmed by the Senate on Wednesday. Congratulations Harium!

Education bills that passed Opposite House Cutoff

  • 2SHB 1182 - Learning assistance program
  • 2SHB 1191 - School notifications
  • 2SHB 2737 - Child. mental health wk grp
  • 2SHB 2864 - Running start summer pilot
  • 2SSB 5572 - School modernization grants
  • 3SHB 1660 - Extracurricular/low income
  • EHB 2040 - Non high school districts
  • EHB 2811 - Environmental education
  • ESHB 2116 - Institutional education
  • ESHB 2455 - High school/child care
  • ESHB 2551 - Tribal regalia/graduation
  • ESHB 2660 - School meals at no cost
  • ESHB 2731 - Student concussion reports
  • ESHB 2816 - School & classroom climates
  • ESSB 5395 - Sexual health education
  • ESSB 6141 - Higher education access
  • ESSB 6189 - SEBB coverage eligibility
  • ESSB 6540 - Working connect. payments
  • HB 1702 - Low-cost course material/CTC
  • HB 2259 - Background checks/education
  • HB 2458 - Optional benefits/schools
  • HB 2617 - Surplus school property
  • HB 2619 - Early learning access
  • HB 2853 - Charter school commission
  • SB 5792 - Cultural access programs
  • SB 6066 - Ethnic studies materials
  • SB 6103 - Educational reporting
  • SB 6263 - Data sharing/schools, tribes
  • SB 6374 - Apprenticeship materials
  • SHB 2456 - Working connect. eligibility
  • SHB 2556 - Early learning provider regs
  • SHB 2589 - Suicide prevention/ID cards
  • SHB 2711 - Educational outcomes
  • SSB 6191 - Adverse childhood experience
  • SSB 6483 - Child care provider rating
  • SSB 6521 - Innovative learning pilot

And a few others of interest:

  • E2SHB 1783 - Office of equity
  • EHB 2965 - Coronavirus response
  • ESB 6313 - Young voters
  • SHB 2441 - TANF access

Media Contact: 

Stephanie Davidsmeyer
Communications Manager
(360) 725-6035