Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are now in day 67 of the 105-day legislative session. Last Wednesday, March 11, was House of origin cutoff, meaning bills that did not pass out of their respective chamber are now dead for the session. However, certain pieces of legislation affecting the budget can be deemed “NTIB,” or “necessary to implement the budget.” Such bills won't be bound by any legislative deadlines this year.
Thousands of bills have been introduced in both chambers, and nearly 700 them have been voted on and passed. Approved House bills will now go over to the Senate for consideration, and vice-versa. These bills are currently in the process of being heard in multiple committees, where many will die because there is a Democratic majority in the House (51-47) and a Republican majority in the Senate (26-23).
In the House, were able to stop some bad policy bills from passing on the House floor. We remain focused on responsible, sustainable and transparent state budgeting.
As a public school teacher for over three decades, I know the importance of giving our children every opportunity to succeed in the classroom and in life. We must work together to put them first—and fund education first. We also must continue standing up for working families by allowing our economy to thrive, free from burdensome new taxes or tax increases. It should not be our goal to increase the number of Washingtonians reliant on government. Instead, our goal should be to pass legislation that spurs self-reliance and an innovative spirit.
Finally it is vital that we protect the most vulnerable in our society — the very young, the elderly, and those with mental health conditions that need help. Republicans have proposed and supported good legislation that works toward this goal.
A word about Senate Bill 5748
One of the more controversial bills that we may soon be considering in the House Education Committee is Senate Bill 5748, which would require student scores on statewide standardized tests to play a role in teacher and principal evaluations. The bill specifies that local school districts and their teacher unions would negotiate how standardized test scores would be used in evaluations.
I do not believe that a bad test score necessarily indicates that a teacher is failing in the classroom. There are a variety of factors, both for students and teachers, that should be taken into account when reviewing performance. Some students will struggle despite teachers' best efforts, and so a test score doesn't fully measure the hard work and effort put in by both the teacher and student.
On a broader policy note, I strongly disagree with the approach of teaching to the test. For most students, their favorite teachers aren't the ones who simply open a textbook and teach them what to memorize (and then immediately forget afterward) for a test. No, their favorite teachers are the ones who inspire them and encourage them to pursue their passions and become excited about learning new material.
There is no question that there should be accountability for teachers when it comes to how their students are performing, but Senate Bill 5748 is not the right approach.
In my latest video update, I discuss my bill, House Bill 1610, which is now in the Senate Law and Justice Committee. I also discuss my disappointment over House Bill 1647 passing out of the House last week with a 51-46 vote. The bill would require health plans that cover maternity care to also cover abortions, and I find it extremely problematic that pro-life women would be forced to buy into something they morally oppose. That is wrong.
You can take a look at the update here.
As we move through the second half of the legislative session, I hope you will continue to email me your questions, comments and concerns about legislation progressing through the House. Your input helps me to serve you more effectively.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you in the state House of Representatives.