Legislative Update | Feb. 5-9, 2024

Roz Thompson, Governmental Relations & Advocacy Director, AWSP
Feb 09, 2024

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Continued Forward Progress

Colorado State University student Drew Thompson makes forward progress flying through the air.

The Legislature continues its forward progress as they passed the halfway point of this year’s legislative session this week. A second cut-off date was reached when bills had to pass out of fiscal committees by Monday. My bill tracking list got even smaller, but you never know what might happen in the remaining weeks. Language from bills that didn’t pass out of committees could still be used as budget provisos so we have to keep paying attention to all of the details.

Legislators now turn their attention to floor action and they have some long days ahead of them as they work to pass bills off the floor of the House or the Senate by February 13. After that, the bills move to the other side and the process repeats.


The Washington Research Council published a good summary of some of the main budget bills that are still in play. We are pushing for additional funding in special education (raising the cap from 15% to 17.25%), transportation costs for special populations, increasing the prototypical model for classified staff (paraeducators), and increasing MSOC (Materials, Supplies, and Operating Costs). We are also hopeful that the capital budget gets adequate funds for school construction.

Here are links to some key budget bills:

  • HB 2180 Increasing the special education enrollment funding cap
  • SB 5873 Providing adequate and predictable student transportation
  • SB 5882 Increasing prototypical school staffing to better meet student needs
  • HB 1960 Increasing prototypical school staffing to better meet student needs
  • HB 2494 Increasing state funding for operating costs
  • HB 1044 Providing capital financial assistance to small school districts
  • SB 5789 Concerning the sales and use tax for school construction assistance programs

We continue to ask legislators to support two specific budget requests that our partners at OSPI included as a decision package request to Governor Inslee. The first part is a $1 million enhancement to our state’s principal internship grant program and the second part is to continue partnering with OSPI to provide regional support for current building administrators. Rep. Paul Harris (R-Vancouver) submitted these requests to the House Appropriations Committee and we hope to see them both included in the final supplemental operating budget. 

The next economic forecast will be released on Wednesday, February 14 and we should also see both the House and the Senate supplemental budgets next week as well.


Two policy bills that remain in play include substance use prevention education on fentanyl (HB 1956), and restraint and isolation (HB 1479 ). The restraint and isolation bill was updated with revised language for some terms and to allow a little more flexibility for schools to use waivers. It also added regional behavioral specialists and some reporting requirements. Much more conversation is coming with this bill as it heads toward the House floor for a vote. I’ve shared some thoughts with both Rep. Lisa Callan (D-Issaquah) and Rep. Skyler Rude (R-Walla Walla) who are both working hard on this bill. We know that student behaviors are the number one concern of educators and how this bill is handled is really important. We aren’t sure what kind of appetite the Senate has for this bill this session but the Senate version did not move out of the Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.

There are also several bills related to updating curriculum requirements including computer science (SB 5849), financial literacy (HB 1915), Holocaust and genocide education (HB 2037 ), and mandating instruction on the Pledge of Allegiance ( SB 6205). We submitted a joint letter to the Legislature along with WEA, WASA, WSSDA, the State Board of Education, and the Washington State PTA asking them to amend the bills to direct the State Board of Education to review graduation requirements comprehensively to determine the best way to meet financial literacy and computer science literacy goals. We also requested that any new graduation requirements be appropriately timed to include middle school students since planning for High School and Beyond Plans now begins in seventh grade.

There are efforts to support high school students including adding private non-for-profit colleges to College in the High School programs (HB 2441), providing Running Start for rising juniors (SB 5670), and strengthening CTE Core Plus programs ( HB 2236).

There are several bills related to our educator workforce including dual language programs (HB 1228), teacher residency programs (HB 1565), and HB 1950 which would increase efforts to improve access and remove barriers to the public service loan forgiveness program.

Here is my complete bill tracking list if you’d like to check out all of the bills. 

Bills Being Heard Next Week


Wednesday, 2/14

  • SB 5180 Adopting the interstate teacher mobility compact.
  • ESB 5462 Promoting inclusive learning standards and instructional materials in public schools. 
  • SB 5647 Providing temporary employees necessary information about school safety policies and procedures. 
  • SB 5883 Concerning the burden of proof for special education due process hearings. 
  • SJM 8007 Requesting Congress to fully fund 40 percent of the costs of IDEA. 

Thursday, 2/15

  • SSB 5648 Including state-tribal education compact schools and charter schools as entities able to receive waivers from the state board of education.
  • ESB 5790 Concerning medical equipment/bleeding control in schools
  • SSB 5804 Concerning opioid overdose reversal medication in public schools. 
  • E2SSB 5670 Providing summer running start for rising juniors


Wednesday, 2/14

  • EHB 1714 Allowing school districts to apply for financial literacy education professional development grants.
  • E2SHB 1332 Supporting public school instruction in tribal sovereignty and federally recognized Indian tribes.
  • HB 1146 Notifying high school students and their families about available dual credit programs and any available financial assistance.
  • ESHB 1277 Improving the consistency and quality of the implementation of the fundamental course of study for paraeducators.
  • HB 2110 Reorganizing statutory requirements governing high school graduation.

Thursday, 2/15

  • 2ESHB 1377 Posting of approved courses and providers of continuing education.
  • SHB 2335 Concerning state-tribal education compacts.
  • SHB 1044 Providing capital financial assistance to small school districts with demonstrated funding challenges.
  • SHB 2381 Increasing eligibility for economy and efficiency flexible school calendar waivers.
  • ESHB 1608 Expanding access to anaphylaxis medications in schools.

Other Advocacy Efforts

A Successful "Day on the Hill"!

Fifteen school leaders from our Advocacy Advisory Council and AWSP Board met in Olympia on Monday (February 5) for our annual “Day on the Hill”. Thank you to all of you who came out, met with your legislators, and advocated for the principalship! It's not too late to get involved. You can schedule a virtual meeting with your own legislators.

Engage in Advocacy

February is our “Member Engagement Month” and there is no better way to engage with your professional association this month than by getting involved in our advocacy efforts. There are a variety of ways in which you can do this. Some take a few seconds, and some take a little more time. Choose your own level of engagement, but please do take action to support legislation that would help “Grow, Support, and Sustain” our current and future school leaders.

Send a Quick Action Alert

This is the easiest option of all. Here are links to two quick action alerts that will send an email to your legislators after you enter your own name and address. The first one is to request support for a budget proviso that would add more funds to the principal intern grant and to provide regional support for current building leaders. The second one allows you to write your own message. Try these now…they are so easy! Scroll down the page until you see the Action Alert you would like to send.

Be a Principal Partner with a Legislator

If you would like to commit to communicating more regularly with your legislators, let me know. Email me if you would like to be a “Principal Partner with a Legislator”.

Invite Your Legislator to be the “Principal for a Day”

We had a very successful pilot project a few weeks ago when Senator Claire Wilson shadowed Principal Terrie Garrison at Fir Grove Elementary in Puyallup and when Representative Clyde Shavers shadowed Principal Jenny Hunt at Broad View Elementary in Oak Harbor. We plan to hold this event again in October, 2024. If you would like a legislator to shadow you next fall, send me an email.

Meet with Your Legislators

It’s really easy to set up meetings either in-person or via Zoom with your legislators. They should prioritize meeting with you because you are their local constituents. Here is a link for their contact information and it’s also helpful to include their legislative assistants in your email to request a meeting. It’s possible to meet with them now during the legislative session but it will probably be a short 15 minute conversation. During the interim, they should have more time to meet with you. Either option works because it’s all about developing a working relationship with our policymakers.

Participate on our Advocacy Advisory Council

We have over 50 principals and assistant principals who belong to our AWSP Advocacy Advisory Council. During the legislative session, we meet weekly on Zoom to discuss the bills being heard that week and to strategize about how we, as an association, will respond. This group of people is invited to attend our annual  “AWSP Day on the Hill” which will be held on Monday, February 5th. During the interim, we meet occasionally via Zoom to stay in touch about various issues, meet with legislators about bills that they are considering, and develop our legislative platform. Email me to get involved at this level. 

Shadow Me for the Day

Last week, it was a first for me and an absolute joy to have Principal Lisa Kusche from Ballou Junior High in Puyallup, spend the day with me at the Capitol. Lisa participated with me in all of my usual advocacy and committee meetings with other education stakeholders and legislators. It was so great to have her here (and I’m so bummed that I forgot to take a selfie of us!) Email me if you would like to hang out sometime in Olympia.

Below are additional links to find out more about these bills and to contact your own legislators. Legislators care very much about hearing directly from their constituents. When we weigh in as an association, it is helpful and important, but having many of you reach out directly with a short email to legislators can be much more powerful.  

Important Links:

Get Involved

Many thanks for all that you do for students and staff. Please reach out if you have questions or comments. Thank you!

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