On June 30, we passed the operating budget and thus avoided a government shutdown, but we didn’t adjourn because the construction budget was still pending. It’s disappointing that we did adjourn last night without passing a capital budget nor solving the Hirst water issue. You can read more about why this happened and what the consequences are for our district, and the state, further down in this newsletter.
This legislative update also addresses I-405 tolling and HOT lanes, as well as Sound Transit 3 and car tabs. I want to point out that the input you gave me via the surveys I sent out through the session was informative and extremely helpful in the decisions I had to make on these and other issues. I hope you will continue participating with your opinions and feedback in future surveys.
I also want to take this opportunity to give you a bit of information on two of my bills that made it to the governor’s desk. I was very proud to sponsor two major education bills, which are the result of a collaborative effort with teachers, students, education stakeholders and advocates. We’ve been working on these important improvements to our education system for many years; I am glad that they’re finally in place because they will make a significant difference to teachers and paraeducators, which, in turn, will have a positive impact on Washington’s students.
I sponsored other major pieces of legislation that didn’t make it this year, but I will continue working on these issues through the interim and next session.
Teacher Certification Relief
Teachers in Washington state have to meet many requirements upon entering and in order to stay in the teaching field, including exams to enter teacher preparation programs, assessments to obtain a residency certification, a rigorous evaluation system, and assessments to obtain a professional certificate. While it is important to maintain high standards for our state’s educators, there is one requirement that has been serving as an unnecessary roadblock. The ProTeach Portfolio requirement is an expensive, time-consuming process that keeps teachers from other opportunities that are actually beneficial, and has caused some educators to go out of state or leave the profession.
At a time when Washington state is in great need of high-quality teachers, we cannot afford to drive them away with burdensome and overly expensive requirements. That is why I sponsored House Bill 1341, which was recently signed into law.
The measure allows new teachers the option of renewing their residency certificate in five-year intervals based on completion of ten credits or one hundred clock hours, instead of requiring them to complete the ProTeach Portfolio professional certification.
Paraeducator Training and Standards
Every student deserves a high-quality education, which means putting high-quality educators in every classroom. Currently, Washington paraeducators play an important role in our classrooms by providing one on one tutoring, assisting with classroom management, coordinating parental involvement efforts, and performing many other tasks aimed at boosting student learning.
Unfortunately, a lack of support, training, and professional development were making it difficult to attract qualified individuals to the paraeducator profession and foster their growth toward becoming certified teachers.
My bill, recently signed into law by Governor Inslee, institutes changes designed to support paraeducators in their efforts to grow and develop in their roles providing classroom support, including:
· Creating minimum standards certification requirements for paraeducators.
· Providing additional professional development opportunities for paraeducators.
· Opening up more doors for paraeducators to earn their teaching certificates.
I-405 Tolling and HOT Lanes
Per RCW 47.56.880, the I-405 Express Toll Lanes (ETL) have performance metrics that they are required to meet in two years (lanes opened September 2015 so the 2-year mark is September 2017). The two metrics that they will be judged upon are: whether the ETLs maintain speeds of 45-mph at least 90% of the time during peak periods and whether the ETLs generated sufficient revenue to pay for all I-405 ETL lane-related operating costs. The 2017-19 Transportation Budget requires a third-party analysis of the HOT lane data to assist legislators in determining whether or not we should keep the HOT lanes.
$11.5 million of funds from the toll revenues collected were used to construct a 1.8 mile “hard shoulder” running lane on northbound I-405 from SR 527 to I-5. The lane opened earlier this month to improve traffic flows on the northbound portion of I-405.
Sound Transit 3 and Car Tabs
The House of Representatives passed a reform that would give people relief without jeopardizing the light rail and mass transit projects that voters approved. House Bill 2201 would credit drivers for the old, unfair valuation schedule that over-valued many car models. While the measure passed the House—twice—on a strong bipartisan vote, the Republican-led Senate did not allow a vote on this bill.
I believe we need to continue work on this reform because taxpayers are fed up and need relief.
Thanks for reading my newsletter. Please feel free to contact my office if y0u need additional information on any of the issues covered here, or if you have any feedback for me.