A picture of the Washington State Capitol Building with a grey background.

The end of the Legislative Session is coming quickly.  Friday was the cutoff for bills to be voted on the floor, except bills that are necessary to implement the budget or impact revenue.  We have some wonderful things to celebrate, and some things that still need work.

After nearly four years in the making, the “Nothing About Us Without Us”, E3SHB 1541 bill has passed!  This effort was championed by Rep. Darya Farivar and a host of tireless, tenacious self-advocates, who did not give up!  Going forward, when workgroups or planning happens, people with lived experience, including self-advocates will be at the table.

Other happy updates include the passage of:

 

Burden of Proof for Special Education Hearings (SB5883) This bill will require that school districts prove their case first, demonstrating that it has provided a free, appropriate, public education. Currently, parents must first prove the program did not provide sufficient benefit which places a harsh onus on the parent who has little access to the classroom, data, experts, or additional evidence without significant cost up front.  The burden rightly lies with the district to confidently prove. We believe this will encourage districts to settle cases they don’t feel confident about and provide faster relief to students overall.  Special thanks to Senator Yasmin Trudeau for her leadership on this bill.

 

Early Support for Infants and Toddlers ( HB1916) This bill addresses a billing issue, ensuring that Early Support for Infants and Toddlers agencies will be paid for their work in the first month of a child’s enrollment. Representative Tana Senn was key in sponsoring this bill and getting it passed.

 

Preservation of Records and Artifacts at Lakeland Village” (SB6125) Friday morning, after last-minute advocacy, This bill passed. It ensures that the stories of those who lived there will not be lost.  We are exceedingly grateful to Senator Claudia Kauffman who so kindly sponsored this legislation.

 

Challenges and Ongoing Work:

 

Restraint & Isolation (E2SHB 1479): Despite passing the House and undergoing rigorous negotiations, did not pass the Senate. Work will continue during the interim, with Rep. Lisa Callan remaining a key sponsor and ally.


 

The Affordable Housing Act (HB2276) which Creates a revenue stream that funds the Housing trust fund, and has a 15% set aside for DD housing, has until Tuesday to get out of House Rules and come for a vote.  If this is important to you send a note to:
The Speaker of the House: Laurie Jinkins: laurie.jinkins@leg.wa.gov
House Floor Majority Leader: Monica Stonier: monica.stonier@leg.wa.gov
 

Message: Please move 2276 bill out of Rules Committee and to the floor.
To view the status of other bills of interest click here.
 

The House and the Senate budgets are now available.  You can view comparisons here.  We are particularly concerned that the Senate provides no rate increases for Supported Living, Employment, and Community Inclusion providers.  These providers don’t have the workforce capacity they need to provide the quality of services for which they strive. Currently, there are over 450 people waiting right now for placement in Supported Living programs.  Employment and Community Inclusion providers are struggling to attract and retain qualified staff, ultimately diminishing the availability and quality of services.

 

We encourage you to reach out to your Senators and request that they please include the House level of funding for Supported Living, Employment and Community Inclusion in the final budget.

 

Keep a close watch on the final budget, expected next week, and stay tuned for any action that may need to happen if there are concerns.

 

Thank you,

 

Cathy Murahashi