Legislative Update: An Update on Education Bills & More

Dear friends and neighbors,

We’ve now just finished week six of this year’s legislative session. For the past week, my fellow legislators and I have been debating various bills on the House floor into the early hours of the morning. However, Tuesday was “House of Origin” cut-off, which means that everything that passes off the House floor by this time will be sent on to the Senate for further consideration, and any bills passed in the Senate will now be considered in the House. If a bill did not pass the House or Senate by the end of debate on Tuesday, it has died for this year (with exceptions for budget related bills). Bills need to pass both chambers before becoming law.  As of this writing, the House has passed 270 bills; 146 were unanimous and 205 have received strong bipartisan support (80+ votes)! Bills with strong bipartisan support include my bill to protect families from high levels of lead in pots, pans and pressure cookers being sold in Washington (House Bill 1551), which passed the House unanimously (see below).

Have you ever been curious about how a bill becomes law? The graphic above depicts the typical life cycle each bill goes through in the legislature. While there are exceptions, this road map outlines the common path most bills are likely to follow. For those seeking a deeper understanding, I recommend watching this accompanying video, which provides a comprehensive exploration of the legislative process.

An Update on Education Bills

Earlier this session, I introduced House Bill 1910 that would have eliminated the cap on special education funding, and provided for an expert study of how many students have disabilities. Sadly, special education has been underfunded for too long in our state and I believe capping how many students with disabilities that our state supports is simply unconscionable. Washington’s special needs students deserve funding to have the same opportunities to learn and grow as every other student.

Unfortunately, this bill didn’t move out of committee this year. However, my colleague, Rep. Lisa Callan (D-Issaquah) introduced House Bill 2180 that increased the special education enrollment funding cap. Working with Rep. Callan, her bill now includes the study I proposed to document the “prevalence’ of disabilities in different student populations in Washington. It passed off the House floor unanimously earlier this week and is now under consideration in the Senate. Although 2180 does not entirely eliminate the cap on funding, it would still provide Seattle Public Schools with $4 million for support for special education students who the state currently provides zero extra support for. I will continue to advocate to remove the cap altogether and I remain committed to working on this important issue to ensure this happens in the future. All our students deserve equal access to a high-quality public education and to have the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Last week, House Bill 2164, which I sponsored to provide strong consumer protections for Washington students who enroll in online college and workforce programs, passed the House floor unanimously. This piece of legislation will ensure online, out-of-state institutions meet the same transparency requirements as Washington higher education institutions.

In today’s higher education landscape, more and more students are getting degrees from online universities which can help reduce cost and accommodate working schedules. These students deserve every bit of protection and transparency that we provide other Washington students, regardless of where their school is based. It’s time we fix that, which this bill does.

Video Update

I have spent much of my legislative career working to reduce lead contamination and poisoning. The research clearly shows us that lead in your food or water  reduces IQ. It can cause emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and medical harm, especially in children. This damage can be irreversible. This week, the House of Representatives passed my legislation that limits lead content in pots and pans to 5 parts-per-million or less. KING5 has done several excellent investigative reports exposing how major online and retail stores continue to sell pots, pans and pressure cookers that have very high levels of lead, which leaches into families’ food. Family mealtime shouldn’t be the source of lead poisoning. Watch my latest video to learn more.

As always, if you’d like to discuss these or any other issues with me, please email me to join one of my Saturday morning drop-in discussions (my “Traveling Town Halls”) from 9:30 to 11 am. During session, I’m doing these on Zoom, so please email me at gerry.pollet@leg.wa.gov and cc emily.grupp@leg.wa.gov to get a link and let us know what you might want to discuss.

Thank you,

Representative Gerry Pollet
46th Legislative District
Pronouns: he/him/his