Education, families bills pass the House floor

Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (Seattle) is congratulated for his first bill passing the house floor
Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (D-Seattle) is congratulated for his first bill passing the house floor

The House approved an array of legislation strengthening education, protecting families and helping veterans on Tuesday. Click here for the full list of bills from Tuesday’s floor action.

Supporting tuition for veterans

HB 1011 – The house voted unanimously to expand the definition of “resident student” to welcome veterans with residential tuition immediately after honorable discharge. Currently, the one-year waiting period for residential status makes it difficult for many veterans, who lived anywhere their country asked, to attend college.

Sponsored by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo), the bill allows veterans and their dependent spouses who seek education within a year of honorable discharge to receive residential tuition preferences.

“This bill is a thank you to our vets and their families who move everywhere because their government wants them to,” said Appleton on the House floor.

HB 1011 was approved unanimously.

Higher education transparency

HB 2651 – Sponsored by Rep. Drew Hansen (D-Bainbridge Island), this bill will create a higher education transparency website and require higher education institutions to post performance information, including revenue and expenditure data online.

“Parents and kids should be able to see at a glance where every dollar comes from and where every dollar goes,” Hansen said on the House floor. “We want to put it all in one place so it’s easy for parents and kids to see.”

The bill passed 97-1.

Protecting children and strengthening the foster care system

The House passed numerous bills protecting Washington children from abuse and neglect.

HB 2165 – Sponsored by Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-Seattle), this bill will establish a formal child fatality review process for the Department of Early Learning to use when children die in daycare centers.

After the May death of 5-month-old in a Seattle daycare center Rep. Kagi learned that no such process exists.

“The death of any child is a tragedy,” Kagi said, citing the need for a formal review by experts to look at our practices and see what needs to change.

The billpassed 93-5.

House Bill 1675 – The House also approved greater protection for children in the foster system. Sponsored by Rep. Mary Helen Roberts (D-Lynnwood), the bill mandates that interviews with potential adoptive parents cover the parents’ disciplinary philosophy in order to protect foster children from abuse.

Additionally, pre-placement reports will be required to reference any past pre-placement reports for the family, thus ensuring potentially abusive adoptive parents cannot “shop around” until they are approved.

“We are trying to ensure that the laws make a safe and healthy home for the adoptive child,” Roberts said.

HB 1675 was approved unanimously.

Providing opportunities for all Washingtonians

House Bill 2450 – Washington residents with developmental disabilities face daunting challenges in securing gainful employment, including locating businesses or organizations that offer opportunities to developmentally disabled workers.

This bill, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Haigh (D-Shelton), will create a framework for Washingtonians with developmental disabilities to find employment opportunities with state agencies.

“It’s a shame to not make an extra effort, especially in state government, to give these folks opportunities,” Haigh said.

HB 2450 passed 93-5.

New member bills

Two bills from our newest members, Rep. June Robinson (D-Everett) and Rep. Brady Walkinshaw (D-Seattle), were voted out by the House on Tuesday. HB 2276 (Rep. Robinson) concerning educational school districts and HB 2398 (Rep. Walkinshaw) concerning community college degrees were both approved unanimously.

These measures are now in the Senate for consideration.