Washington State House Democrats


Rep. Bergquist’s Legislative Update: New Paid Sick Leave Law / Teacher Certification / Paraeducator Training / Survey: Gov’s Budget


Happy New Year for Working Families

As you may know, in 2016 voters approved Initiative 1433, which increased the minimum wage and required employers to provide paid sick leave starting January 1, 2018.

Happy Fam

A couple of months ago the Department of Labor and Industries finalized the process for its implementation. The newly adopted rules cover how the law will be carried out, including accrual and usage.

Under the new Paid Sick Leave law:

– All non-exempt employees who work in the state of Washington will be entitled to accrue paid sick leave starting on January 1, 2018.

– Workers will accrue at least 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, and may carry over up to 40 hours of unused paid sick leave to the following year.

– Workers will be able to use their accrued paid sick leave beginning the 90th calendar day after the start of their employment.

–  Workers may take paid sick leave:

  • To care for themselves or a family member.
  • When the employees’ workplace or their child’s school or place of care has been closed by a public official for any health-related reason.
  • For absences that qualify for leave under the state’s Domestic Violence Leave Act.

–  Employers may allow employees to use paid sick leave for additional purposes.

For more information, please view the Department of Labor & Industries’ fact sheet on the impacts of Initiative 1433.

Streamlined Teacher Certification

In our state, teachers must pass preparation programs exams, assessments for residency certification, a rigorous evaluation system, and assessments to obtain professional certificates.

Teach cubes

I believe having most of these requirements in place is necessary for our children to get the best instructors. However, one of these conditions, the ProTeach Portfolio requirement, had really become an unnecessary hurdle.  The expensive and convoluted process was hindering the state’s ability to ensure educators remained in Washington and in the teaching field for the long haul.

To solve this issue, I sponsored House Bill 1341, which was signed into law over the summer. Under the new law, not only teachers, but also principals, counselors, and administrators may renew their certificates in five-year intervals with:

  • 100 clock hours or the equivalent in college credit
  • Or, by completing four annual Professional Growth Plans (PGPs) during the five-year validity date of the certificate
  • Or, by combining completed PGPs with clock hours for a total of 100 hours. (e.g. 3 PGPs + 25 CH = 100 CH)

To learn more about these changes, please go to the Professional Educator Standards Board’s Frequently Asked Questions on HB 1341.


Paraeducator Training

Paraeducators help students learn by providing numerous valuable tasks, such as tutoring, assisting with classroom management, and coordinating parental involvement efforts.

But without sufficient support, training, and professional development, the state was struggling to garner interest for the paraeducator profession.

To increase our chances of recruiting and retaining qualified individuals to fill these positions, last session I sponsored House Bill 1115. The law creates minimum standards certification requirements for paraeducators, provides them with additional professional development opportunities, and opens up more doors for them to earn their teaching certificates.

The Seattle Times ran a story about these changes back in August; you can read it on my website.

Will your family use the new before- and after-school programs?

Renton School District will offer before- and after-school programs on-site at all 15 elementary schools beginning this fall (at the start of the 2018-2019 school year) and they need your input. To read more about the programs and take their survey, please follow this link: https://www.rentonschools.us/BeforeAfterSchoolPrograms

What do you think of Gov. Inslee’s budget proposal?

During the 2017 legislative session, we passed $1.8 billion in additional dollars toward our goal to fully fund education by the 2019-20 school year. However, in the fall, the state Supreme Court ruled in the McCleary case that while our framework is sufficient to meet the state’s obligation to basic education, it still falls short because it doesn’t fully fund the increased school teacher and staff salaries by the 2018 deadline.

Gov. Inslee’s budget released in December proposes an additional, one-time investment of $950 million in the 2018–19 school year to increase staff salaries and fully fund basic education by Sept. 1, 2018, in compliance with the Court’s ruling. The governor’s budget would pay for this one-time investment using revenue from the “Rainy Day Fund,” which would then be replaced with revenue from a new proposed carbon pollution tax.

While we wait for the governor to release the details on that tax proposal later this month, I’d like to hear your thoughts:

Take survey button

Thanks for reading my newsletter. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office if y0u need additional information on any of the issues covered here, or if you have any feedback for me.


Bergquist Signature