Session 2015: Some Success, More Work to Do
The 2015 Washington State Legislative Regular Session came to an end on Friday, April 24. The legislature did not come to an agreement on the final budget. Consequently, a special session,which began on Wed., April 29, was called by Governor Inslee.
Many CCF priorities made it through are on their way to becoming law, but others languished or await a final decision on the budget.
Speaking of the budget, your help is needed!
Many programs, such as Working Connections Child Care, are at risk for cuts, while other great new initiatives such as Breakfast after the Bell (which draws down a large federal match), and are in trouble. Now is the time to contact budget conferees, and ask them to make sure the social safety net is protected with reliable revenues.
Below is the contact information for the budget conferees:
Sen. Andy Hill (R) Budget Chair (360) 786-7672 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. John Braun (R) (360) 786-7638 email@example.com
Sen. Mark Schoesler (R) Majority Leader (360) 786-7620 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Ross Hunter (D) Budget Chair (360) 786-7936 email@example.com
Rep. Frank Chopp (D) Speaker (360) 786-7920 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Pat Sullivan (D) (360) 786-7858 email@example.com
Rep. Bruce Chandler (R) (360) 786-7960 firstname.lastname@example.org
Extended Foster Care HB 1735 and SB 5740 allows youth in foster care to stay in the state health care system until 21 regardless of a medical condition that is an impediment to attending school, training, or a job. SB 5740 has passed and is on its way to the governor.
Homeless Youth Act HB 1436 and SB 5404 creates a focused statewide offices for Homeless Youth, maintains a funding stream for statewide programs serving these youth; and will improve rural service delivery. SB 5404 has been signed by the governor and is now law.
YEAR Act HB 1481 and SB 5564 was a bill created to eliminate most legal financial obligations that are assessed on juvenile offenders. These fines can cause a lifetime of debt and an inability to reintegrate back into the community. SB 5564 has passed and is on its way to the governor.
Anti-Sex Trafficking SB 5884 creates a single point of contact within the State Office of Crime Victims Advocacy in the Department of Commerce for advocacy groups and service providers. The clearing house serves as a pool of information so trafficking survivors and citizens have access to the most comprehensive and current information regarding statewide efforts to curb trafficking.
Early Start Act HB 1491 and SB 5452 The Early Start Act is a bill that advances a system of quality supports for early learning and child care programs across the state to ensure that Washington’s youngest learners get off to a strong start. HB 1491 did not pass, however, is considered ‘necessary to implement the budget’ and will likely be voted on as a part of the final budgeting process once a state budget agreement is reached.
Social Emotional Learning Bill HB 1760 and SB 5688 would have created a workgroup to recommend comprehensive social and emotional benchmarks (ex. self-awareness, responsible decision-making, etc.) at every grade level. While these bills did not pass, there is language in the proposed budget to initiate this critical work.
Breakfast After the Bell HB 1295 and SB 5437 require that each high-needs school must offer breakfast after the bell to each student and provide adequate time for students to eat beginning in the 2016-17 school year. This will draw down millions more in federal funding. While these bills did not pass, there is language for the program in both the House and Senate budgets.
Opportunity Next Year
Universal Screening for Autism and Developmental Delays for Children in Medicaid Programs HB 1365 and SB 5317 This bill would have required universal screening and provider payment for autism and developmental delays as recommended by the Bright Futures guidelines, subject to the availability of funds. This would ensure the same standard of care that is required for all our privately insured children is applied to our Medicaid-covered children. SB 5317 was heard in the House Health and Wellness Committee in March but did not come up for executive action and therefore is dead. However, funding is included in the proposed Senate budget.