This week in the Legislature: Report from Jim Kainber

March 27, 2009 at 10:23 am Leave a comment

A $9 billion budget deficit would rattle even the steeliest public official, and as a whole the Washington State Legislature took the news in stride. Even while bills continued to move through the process, the focus on the upcoming budget presentations from the State House and State Senate moved into center stage. Next week we will have the introduction of both versions of the budget, which coincides with the deadline to move bills out of policy committees. Financial committees have more time to work on bills before they are sent to the floor of the House and Senate for consideration.

Last weekend Stand for Children partnered with the League of Education Voters to host three canvassing parties in key legislative districts. The targets of the drops were: Senate K-12 Committee Chair, Rosemary McAuliffe, Sponsor of SB 6048, Eric Oemig, and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown.

Our goal was to raise awareness of Stand’s grassroots capacity and reach, and to encourage voters in these key districts in Bothell, Kirkland and Spokane to support vigorous reforms.

These efforts did not go unnoticed. Senator McAuliffe and Senator Oemig made brief stops by the pre-canvas meetings in their districts to take questions from our volunteers, and the buzz around the Capitol Monday morning was that our folks were putting significant pressure on these legislators.

Mission Accomplished. Kudos and thanks to the nearly 40 people who helped with these events.

Stand for Children also delivered impressive turnout of membership from around the region at the Senate K-12 Committee Meeting this week. Sixty-three education advocates turned out testify or sign-in in support of ESHB 2261 – over half of all attendees at the meeting were our members. We had a panel of five members who spoke eloquently to the issues in the bill, a marked difference from our opponents who often spoke to tangential issues, and seemed unaware of the actual content of the legislation. One member, Brooke Valentine from Kent, was quoted the following day in an article in The Olympian newspaper, the most-read paper on Capitol Hill! Sarah Powers of Bellevue was also quoted in the Tacoma News Tribune!

ESHB 2261 is scheduled for executive committee this Monday, the deadline for them to move bills. We have assurance from members on this committee that they will not gut the provisions, though there are likely to be amendments.

The House Education Appropriations Committee passed the senate vehicle for education reform, SB 6048, from committee, with amendments bringing it in line with the more robust HB 2261. Members addressed one of Stand’s major issues, recruitment of math and science teachers with their amendment. It now rests in the Ways and Means Committee awaiting consideration.

The Senate K-12 committee is scheduled to move 2003, reconstituting the Professional Educators Standards Board by Friday of this week; it will then go to Ways and Means.

SB 5941 regarding a statewide data system is scheduled to be voted upon in the House Education Appropriations Committee on Friday of this week; it will then go to Ways and Means.

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Entry filed under: News Updates.

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