2018 Legislative Session

Governor Inslee takes action on many PSE priority bills

Governor Inslee has taken action (signed, vetoed, or partial vetoed) on hundreds of bills before him with only a couple left on his plate.   The good news is the bills PSE worked on have already been signed and will take effect within the next 90 days.  Here is the summary of his actions:

Paraeducators – SB 6388 was signed into law.  It takes effect on June 7.

SEBB Improvements – SB 6241 was signed into law.  It takes effect on June 7 with a couple emergency clauses that take effect immediately.

McCleary Fix – SB 6362 was signed law with a couple of section vetoes that didn’t directly affect classified employees.  It has a variety of effective dates.

2018 Supplemental Budget – SB 6032 was signed into law with a couple of section vetoes that didn’t directly affect classified employees.  It has a variety of effective dates.

Pro union bills – HB 2751 (requiring union member dues deduction) & SB 6229 (requiring employers to provide unions access to new employees within 90 days of hire) have both been signed into law.  Both are effective on June 7.

Yes there were several hundred other bills that he signed but the bills noted above are the ones which will have the most direct effect on classified employees in the years ahead.

 

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4th Intern – Joetta Sieglock

Joetta, an Eastern Washington University PSE member, was busy during her stint in Olympia and provided me this summary of her activities:

Having the opportunity to be in Olympia for a week as a legislative intern was interesting and very rewarding for me. I was able to speak to several of the lobbyists during the week. I enjoyed being able to sit in on the discussions at the hearings as well as the House and Senate floors. If you have the opportunity to be an intern, in the future I highly recommend it. I learned so much being able to take it in first hand. It helped me understand the legislative process better.

There were several bills that I was interested in learning about. Some of them affected me in my job working in higher education. One bill, in particular, that I was very interested in was the House Bill 2822, it proposed to change the language of the bill to include the miniature horse as a service animal. I know there will be many questions for those that work with individuals that have a service animal. Since I work with students with disabilities, it was especially interesting to me. I am sure there will be many questions and comments that come up regarding service animals in Washington State that may affect us all.

If you are interested, you can look at the bill, HB 2822:  which is the substitute bill.

 http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/2822-S.pdf

 According to the committee materials, this is how the substitute bill compares to the original bill:

  • Incorporates miniature horses into the definition of service animal;
  • Provides that the definition of service animal does not apply to discrimination statutes pertaining to housing accommodations or real estate transactions;
  • Repeals the statute related to food establishments as the definition of service animal will apply to all public accommodations;

Adds language establishing the parameters of what an enforcement officer and place of public accommodation may inquire based on federal law; and

  • Makes other technical changes and minor substantive revisions.

This bill will change the definition of service animal in the state of Washington, and impose penalties on persons who intentionally misrepresent their pet or comfort animal as a service animal. If this bill passes, the Human Rights Commission will need to rewrite its brochures and training materials in this area of the law to reflect the new bill language. These training materials and brochures will be made available for distribution. There will also be training throughout the state for members of the public and business owners in order to educate them on the new law and in order to answer any questions they might have about the new language. The next step is for the bill to be signed by the governor. I have been watching it and I even signed up for legislative updates for the bill, it has not been signed yet. Once signed, it goes into effect on January 1, 2019.  

While watching the Senate in session I was impressed to see the Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib, President of the Senate and Chief Opportunity Officer for Washington State read his information in Braille. He was reading his materials in Braille and he did not miss a beat. If you are interested in reading more about the lieutenant governor, you can read more at http://www.ltgov.wa.gov/

Doug’s Update: Good news Joetta!  Governor Inslee signed the bill into law on March 22.  

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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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