The Legislative Session is in the second week and the feeling in Olympia is different than last year, which was a short and very focused session. There is more time for productive discussion around priorities, the budget and how to best support education and early learning.
There are over 130 bills, so far, dealing with school related issues. There are at least eight school safety bills covering a wide range of topics including mental health, firearms in schools, seatbelts on busses, resource officers, and proof of immunization.
The most comprehensive and bi-partisan safety bill introduced is HB 1216 (SB 5317) that establishes regional safety centers, creates school based threat assessment program and requires data collection and submission. It also modifies drill requirements to better reflect actual emergency threat by region.
Along with the safety bills, there are bills that deal with dual credits, including one that establishes a summer Running Start Program. The teacher recruitment and retention bill (HB 1139) offers creative ways to encourage people to become teachers and stay in the field.
Other topics covered by proposed bills are increasing rates for Working Connections Child Care Subsidies, supporting students with special needs, creating flexibility in graduation requirements, and making considerable improvements to Early Achievers.
Please contact Suzie Hanson, WFIS Executive Director with feedback on the proposed bills or if you have ideas for bills.