On June 8, 2021 I attended the All About Advocacy: 2021 Session Wrap Up meeting with the Washington State PTA. The 2021 Session was 105 days long (January 11 – April 25) and the legislature adopted two-year spending plans and tweaked the current fiscal year where needed. There were a lot of new legislators from the 2020 election and much of it was virtual. If you have ever been down to Olympia to testify or provide comment or just pop into a live session, you know it is time consuming! So, there is hope that there will remain some remote testimony/comment options in the future to increase the equity of those able to provide comment.
I will outline and summarize results from the 2021 session from the perspective of the WSPTA. You may agree or disagree with individual bills or legislative priorities, but all these different points of view are represented at the annual Legislative Assembly that the WSPTA holds each year. Very few items are passed unanimously and it’s important to remember that as an individual you can definitely advocate to your representatives for your views, but what is voted on for the WSPTA is that of the majority consensus. Of those priorities our school PTSA can choose which issues we wanted to advocate for most strongly in Olympia in January. A little later this year keep an eye out for a survey I will send to poll our PTSA members and find those issues of most importance so I can accurately advocate for our members.
Overall WSPTA Wins: School counselor funding at all grade levels, funding for two days of paraeducator training, flexibility in LAP funding, broadband funding and devices, seismic funding, lead in drinking water legislation, emergency waivers for grad requirements, changes to College in the High School, tip line effort with start, school meals/lunch co-pays for K-12, mitigating climate change and dismantling systemic racism.
Semi-Wins for WSPTA: Preserving funding including transportation money for 2020-2021 and preserved ESSER I and III for recovery, school-based health centers (policy passed but no budget), staff at OSPI for special education resources and OSPI funding to support more CTE grad pathways.
New K-12 Policy-Mental & Physical Health, SEL
- SHB 1085 – students with seizure disorders (Chapter 29, Laws of 2021).
- E2SHB 1139 – addressing lead in drinking water.
- SHB 1225 – school-based health centers (Chapter 68, Laws of 2021).
- SHB 1363 – secondary trauma/K-12 (Chapter 129, Laws of 2021).
- SHB 1373 – behavioral health/students.
Preserving Education Funding and Funding Flexibility
- SHB 1208 – Learning Assistance Program Flexibility (Chapter 111, Laws of 2021).
- ESHB 1368 – ESSER I and II authorization (Chapter 3, Laws of 2021).
- ESHB 1476 – addressing enrollment declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- E2SSB 5128 – concerning student transportation funding during a local, state or national emergency.
Closing the Digital Divide/Broadband Access
- E2SHB 1365 – procuring and supporting appropriate computers and devices for public school students and instructional staff.
- ESHB 1336 – creating and expanding unrestricted authority for public entities to provide telecommunications services to end users.
- 2SSB 5383 – Authorizing a public utility district to provide retail telecommunications services in unserved areas under certain conditions.
Preventing Gun Violence & Suicide
- E2SHB 1320 – changing laws concerning civil protection orders.
- E2SHB 1477 – implementing the national 988 system to enhance and expand behavioral health crisis response and prevention services
Climate Change Mitigation
- E2SHB 1050 – reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fluorinated gases.
- E3SHB 1091 – reducing greenhouse gas emissions through low -carbon fuels.
- E2SSB 5126 – establishing a cap & invest program, i.e., Climate Commitment Act.
Dismantling Systemic Racism: Police Reform
- ESHB 1054 – establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by peace officers.
- ESHB 1267 – investigating potential criminal conduct arising from police use of force.
- E2SHB 1310 – permissible uses of force by law enforcement and corrections officers.
- E2SSB 5051 – concerning state oversight and accountability of peace officers and corrections officers.
- SSB 5066 – requiring an officer’s duty to intervene.
- ESB 5135 – regarding unlawfully summoning a police officer.
- E2SSB 5259 – concerning law enforcement data collection.
- ESSB 5353 – creating a partnership model that facilitates community engagement with law enforcement.
Dismantling Systemic Racism: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
- SHB 1016 – making Juneteenth a legal holiday.
- ESHB 1426 – requiring 25% of training for certificate renewal to be in cultural competency, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and Tribal nations government-to-government training.
- ESSB 5044 – requiring professional learning in equity, cultural competency, and dismantling institutional racism in the public school system.
- E2SSB 5141 – implementing the recommendations of the environmental justice task force.
- E2SSB 5194 – providing for equity and access in the community & technical colleges.
- E2SSB 5227 – requiring diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism training and assessments in institutions of higher education.
- ESSB 5405 – instructing the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee to perform racial equity analyses.
Graduation Requirements, Dual Credit, Career & College Readiness
- EHB 1121 – granting SBE authority to issue emergency waiver of graduation requirements (Chapter 7, Laws of 2021).
- SHB 1166 – expanding access to the homeless and foster care college students pilot program (Chapter 62, Laws of 2021).
- ESHB 1176 – prohibiting withholding of a diploma for certain fines/fees (Chapter 120, Laws of 2021).
- SHB 1302 – modifying College in the High School programs (Chapter 71, Laws of 2021).
- SHB 1425 – expanding scholarships for community & technical college students (Chapter 133, Laws of 2021.
- SSB 5249 – supporting Mastery-Based Learning (Chapter 144, Laws of 2021).
- SB 5299 – allowing the use of computer science for the purpose of graduation requirements.
- ESSB 5321 – expanding access to the College Bound Scholarship.
- ESHB 1113 – allowing 15 days before acting on truancy (Chapter 129, Laws of 2021. (Linked with 2019’s SB 5290, prohibiting detention for truancy.)
- ESHB 1214 – changing training requirements for SROs (Chapter 38, Laws of 2021).
- ESHB 1273 – requiring menstrual products in middle and high schools.
- E2SHB 1295 – providing education to youth in or released from institutional education facilities.
- EHB 1342 – eliminating lunch copays for students who qualify for reduced-price lunches (Chapter 74, Laws of 2021).
- SHB 1356 – prohibiting the inappropriate use of Native American names, symbols, or images as public-school mascots, logos or team names (Chapter 128, Laws of 2021).
- SSB 5030 – developing comprehensive school counseling programs.
- SB 5184 – establishing a building point of contact in all K-12 public schools for students in foster care (Chapter 95, Laws of 2021).
Early Learning Bills
- ESHB 1370 – increasing funding limits for grants for early learning facilities (Chapter 130, Laws of 2021).
- E2SSB 5237 – expanding accessible affordable childcare and early childhood development programs, i.e., Fair Start Act.
- ESSB 5096 – imposing an excise tax on capital gains (revenue supports the Fair Start Act).