2018 Legislative Session

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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School safety / arming employees / guns

As the session gets closer to the end, it appears there is a renewed effort to try and pass something to improve school safety (unfortunately this issue is getting momentum solely because of the Florida school shooting).  The most recent effort is Senator Frockt’s bill, SB 6620, which combined a small gesture to make schools safer but a significant effort to address gun control.  Combine that with yesterday’s Senate Republican press conference with John Cerna, Toppenish School District superintendent, in which he describes his school districts arming 18 administrators to fill the “gap time” – the time between when the shooting starts to when the police show up.

With one week left, it appears there is momentum to put in place new safety measures in public schools.

 

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Unanimous approval in House for paraeducator fix-it bill

PSE’s paraeducator fix-it bill, SB 6388, easily passed yesterday.  Because there was a small change in the House education committee, the bill will have to go back to the Senate to get their approval of the change.

As a reminder, passage of this bill will give paraeducators one additional year, until September 1, 2019, to meet the minimum employment requirements.

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House approves budget on party line vote

On a 50-46 party line vote, the House finally approved its 2018 supplemental operating budget last Monday.  Nothing changed from my previous blog entry other than they used a different number for the bill (instead of HB 2299 they are now using SB 6032).

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McCleary solution approved by another committee

Now that the Budget negotiators are meeting to fine tune the 2018 supplemental budget, the House Appropriations committee approved SB 6362 on a party line vote of 18-15.  Since this bill covers an issue near and dear to every classified employee, their 2018-19 school year salary increase, this is where things stand at this point.  Keep in mind that it still has to be approved by the House and then has to be approved again by the Senate.

What can you negotiate for the 2018-19 salary increase:

1…minimum salary increase of 3%.

2….maximum salary increase dependent upon each school districts average total classified staff salary.  If your district average is less than the amount the school district receives from the state, we can negotiate whatever increase is necessary to raise your school districts average salary to the amount they receive from the state’s allocation for your school district (including the regionalization factor).  The average allocation from the state is $46,784.33.

3…Step increases and increased time as a result of enrollment increases or changes to the state’s prototypical school formula are allowed as an addition to the calculation above.

Though we are near the end of the process, there may be last minute changes that may change the calculation process.

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House sends union access bill to Governor

Yesterday, the House approved SB 6229 on a bipartisan 58-40 vote (8 republicans: Graves, Griffey, Hayes, Irwin, Muri, Smith, Stambaugh and Wilcox joined all democrats).  This bill gives unions access to new employees as follows:

…the access to the new employee occurs within 90 days of the employee’s start date within the bargaining unit;

…the access is for no less than 30 minutes;

…and the access occurs during the new employee’s regular work hours at the employee’s regular worksite, or at a location agreed to by the employer and the exclusive bargaining representative.

Employers are required to inform the new employee that they are not required to attend the meeting with the union.

As we head into a new world with the upcoming United States Supreme Court in the Janus decision, having a reasonable opportunity to meet with new employees to present the value of union membership will be extremely helpful.

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House makes significant change to Budget

After wading through numerous amendments last night, the House came close but didn’t vote on a final budget.  However, the most significant amendment approved (because it cost nearly $1 billion) was moving the K 12 salary allocation forward by one year (instead of funding the allocation over the next two school years, the entire allocation will be in one school year).  With that decision, the House is now in agreement with the Senate (and the Washington Supreme Court) that the salary allocation will begin September 1, 2018.

Once they vote on Monday, the House and Senate budget negotiators will work over the remaining days of the session to iron out their differences (one remaining difference important to us is PSE’s budget proviso for $250,000 for paraeducator training modules that is in the Senate budget but not the House budget).

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Senate approves Budget

On a narrow 25-23 vote, the Senate approved its Supplemental Operating Budget yesterday.  Though there were a couple of amendments approved, none of them changed issues of interest to PSE.  They fully funded the increased salary allocation starting September 1, 2018, provided an additional $20 million to implement SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board), and funded $250,000 for development of paraeducator training modules.

Once the House has completed its budget, the House and Senate budget negotiators will iron out the differences in their budgets.

 

 

 

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Paraeducator bill easily passes another hurdle

PSE’s paraeducator “fix-it” bill, SB 6388, easily passed the House Education Committee this morning.  As a reminder, this bill gives paraeducators another year to meet the minimum employment standards and gives school districts a full year to train paraeducators if the legislature funds the 4 day course in the 2019-21 budget.

Next step for this bill: a vote on the House floor.

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