2018 Legislative Session

What a way to end McCleary

Last night the House added some last minute changes to the McCleary bill SB 6362, passed it on a party line vote 50-48, immediately sent it over to the Senate, and the Senate passed it on a party line 25-23 vote after a bitter debate that came close to a complete meltdown.  Not the way I would have liked them to close the book on the last chapter of the Supreme Court case.

As I have mentioned previously, this bill limits what we can negotiate next year.  What salary increase can we negotiate next year?  They didn’t change their previous position that I have described in previous entries which was:

  1.  3% increase based upon the 2017 CPI (consumer price index);
  2. Education and experience step increases;
  3. Job changes based upon enrollment changes;
  4. And now the more complicated one…raise school district classified employee average salary to the average statewide allocation determined by OSPI.  This “upper limit” will be a different calculation for each school district.

Final reminder, this limitation is only for the 2018-19 school year.  Salary increases in future years will be based upon the IPD (implicit price deflator) not the CPI.


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BAB coming to some schools

Yesterday, Governor Inslee signed HB 1508, which will require schools with at least 70% free and reduced lunch students (with a few exceptions), to offer breakfast after the bell (BAB).  While there are some exceptions to the requirement, those restrictions will not impact a large number of schools.  The key here is that students who qualify for free breakfast who don’t get to school in time for breakfast will be able to get breakfast in the classroom.  It encourages schools to set up their free breakfast program so that it offers all students who qualify for free breakfast to get their breakfast in the classroom.


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SEBB fix-it bill heading to Governor

During this session, PSE has worked with the HCA (Health Care Authority) and WEA (Washington Education Association) to push through a bill to implement SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board) by January 1, 2020.  SB 6241 was approved late last night on a party line vote of 50-48.   It is not uncommon for major pieces of legislation like last year’s SEBB bill, HB 2242, to be perfected in future years.  Now we wait for Governor Inslee’s signature on the bill.

Examples of some of the changes approved last night:

  1. Clarifies that the employee to family premium share will be 3:1 not 1:1 (employees who sign up for full family coverage pay $3 for each $1 single employees pay for premiums.)
  2. HCA will get current data from insurance companies 8 months earlier.
  3. School districts will be able to pay for optional benefits not covered by SEBB.
  4.  Employees who work less than 630 hours are eligible for SEBB if bargained with the district.
  5. 2018-19 school year insurance plans are allowed to go beyond the 12 month limitation in order to conclude by December 31, 2019.
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Budget agreement includes final PSE objective

Budget negotiators announced their final agreement last night, the day before the end of the session.  Most of the major differences between the House and Senate budgets were ironed out previously so this final deal didn’t change any major issues.  PSE had one additional measure we wanted the legislature to fund: $250,000 to develop paraeducator training modules.  Good news is that the budget included that funding.

K 12 salary allocations will be fully funded in the 2018-19 school year at a cost of $776 million.  The classified employee salary allocation will increase from $34,180 to $46,784.33 starting September 1, 2018.  Normally, when there is an allocation increase, we get the same percentage increase to negotiate with our school districts.  However, this 37% allocation increase does not mean we will get that full increase.  In another bill, SB 6362, which hasn’t been voted on yet but must be voted upon before the end of the session, the legislature limits how much we can negotiate of the 37% increase.  More on that after we see what the bill looks like.

Other details that didn’t change but are important to note:

  1. Insurance allocation will go up to $843.97 from its current amount of $820.
  2. The retiree carve out will increase to $71.08 from its current amount of $64.07.
  3. $20 million to HCA (Health Care Authority) to implement SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board).
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Paraeducator bill on its way to Governor

On a final vote of 48-1 (Senator Hasegawa the only “no”), the Senate gave its final approval to SB 6388.  It now only has one step to go; Governor Inslee’s signature.  This fix-it bill gives paraeducators one additional year, until September 1, 2019, to meet the minimum employment requirements.  It also gives school districts a full year to implement the training if the legislature funds the four day course of study for paraeducators in the 2019-21 budget.

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SEBB improvements passes House

On a party line vote of 50-48, SB 6241 passed the House.  As reported in earlier entries, this bill is necessary for the Health Care Authority to implement SEBB effectively and in time for the January 1, 2020, launch date.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for their concurrence with an amendment added on the House floor.  That amendment, approved by republicans and democrats, requires that insurance companies bidding on SEBB insurance plans must also offer a silver and gold insurance plan for the uninsured market in the counties they offer SEBB plans.  This is the same issue that was brought up in HB 2408 which is breathing its last breath 🙂 (its dying because of the 5:00 pm deadline – 45 minutes away).  PSE doesn’t like the amendment because we are concerned it may reduce insurance companies willing to offer SEBB insurance plans.



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Improved union dues process

Last night, the Senate approved, on a party line vote of 26-22 (republican Senator Mark Miloscia joined all democrats), HB 2751.  With their approval, it now heads to Governor Inslee for his consideration and hopefully, his approval.

If he signs it, employers will be required to deduct regular dues from all employees in the bargaining unit when they are hired.  No longer is it necessary to have a signed card before dues are deducted.   Employees who want to be a fee-payer or religious objector must do what they currently do: let the union and employer know of their decision.

An important note however is that in order for this change to impact a bargaining unit, the collective bargaining agreement must have the traditional union security clause which specify employees have to contribute to the union (or choose fee payer status or religious objector status) and employers must deduct the appropriate dues based upon their decision.  Without these collective bargaining agreement provisions, this will have no impact.

One final note…the upcoming US Supreme Court Janus decision may affect the impact of this legislation so stay tuned.

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My week in Olympia – Tiffany Picotte

What a unique and fabulous opportunity PSE members have, to join Doug in Olympia as a legislative intern during legislative session!

I was particularly pleased with the discovery of TVW, Washington States’ own public affairs network that runs 24-hours a day for all of our enjoyment.  I enjoyed the channel around the clock all week, and now it has a permanent home on my laptop toolbar and my Roku! Get in on the fun here: https://www.tvw.org/.

The majority of the action of the week consisted of sitting in on House and Senate committees hearing testimony on proposed bills, which if they were so fortunate, passed out of committee in the executive sessions.  Much of the week our attention was given to the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means Committees, the budget committees.  The major shocker was the House Appropriations Committee blowing off McCleary, causing a stir with the education unions.

What was anticipated to be a quiet day on the hill Friday, turned into a fiery afternoon with the House debating some of the most controversial bills on the floor, including:  ESB 6617 (records disclosure obligations of the legislative branch), ESB 5992 (bump-fire stocks), and the House Appropriations Committee budget.  Unfortunately, the debate was cut short for me when I had to head out to catch my shuttle back to Sea-Tac.

Beyond simply the amount of knowledge I gained this week, what I came away with was a deeper understanding and appreciation for the legislative process, but most especially the legislators. Politics aside, these individuals work so hard for their districts and Washington State and it unfortunately does, often, go unnoticed by their constituents. I highly encourage all PSE member to delve deeper and consider being a PSE legislative intern!


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Improving access to higher education – an intern’s perspective

Tiffany Picotte, Zone 13 legislative council member, PSE intern, and Eastern Washington University employee, spent last week in Olympia.  During her week she focused on higher education issues like the issue below.  Here’s her report:

Having the opportunity to sit in on House and Senate committee meetings was such a treat! Working in higher education, I made it a priority to attend the House Committee on Higher Education and Senate Committee on Higher Education & Workforce Development.

One bill heard on 20-February in the Senate Committee peaked my interest, HB1488, (current version E3SHB 1488) which concerns expanding higher education opportunities for certain students.  This bill has four main objectives:

(1) Allow students who meet the 1079 residency criteria to be eligible for the College Bound Scholarship program. The 1079 standard emerged out of the Legislature passing HB 1079 in 2003, which allows eligible undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at state universities and colleges if they meet.

(2) Provide that students who have received Opportunity Scholarships may renew their scholarships by filing the Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA).

(3) Expand the criteria of what is not a nonresident student to include individuals with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status or with certain authorizations from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), primarily U and T nonimmigrant status, or those in deferred action status.

(4) Appropriate $500,000 from the State General Fund in fiscal year 2019 to fund the State Need Grant.

I was able to follow the bill throughout the week, observing the public hearing on HB1488 in the Senate Committee on Tuesday and the executive session on Thursday, where executive action was taken to pass the bill out of Senate Committee, at which point it was referred to the Rules Committee for a second reading on Friday.  Wow, all in one week!

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House budget endorses study of janitorial workloads and safety

The House budget that was voted out on Monday includes a study to address high injury rates of the janitorial workforce. The proposed study will look at physical demands of common janitorial work tasks and assess the safety and health needs of janitorial workers.

The research must also identify potential risk factors associated with increased risk of injury.

The budget proviso is consistent with the aim of Senate Bill 6227, which PSE supports.

A 2014 Labor & Industries work group found that janitorial services workers were at greater risk of injury than workers in other service industries. The work group also found that female janitors, janitors in the profession for less than a year, and janitors who prefer a language other than English file more compensable claims than individuals outside these demographics.

The work group issued a report in December 2014 that contained recommendations, including measures to increase access to safety information, improve training, and implement reporting systems to better identify, investigate, and improve safety issues in high-risk environments.

The bill is sponsored by Senators Karen Keiser, Steve Conway, Rebecca Saldana, and Bob Hasegawa. Senators John Braun, Curtis King, and Lynda Wilson voted “Do Not Pass” out of the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.

SB 6227 did not receive a vote by the Senate prior to the deadline. The Senate budget currently does not contain the study provision. Negotiators from the House and Senate will work out differences between their respective budget proposals before the scheduled end of the Session, March 8.

The budget bill is SB 6032.

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