Dear friends and neighbors,
We’ve now passed one of the most important deadlines in the legislative session – the “house of origin” cutoff. With a few exceptions, bills introduced in the Senate had until this Wednesday, March 8, to be passed off the floor to be considered “alive” for the remainder of session and continue forward through the process in the House of Representatives.
Looking back at the issues I’ve talked with you about over the course of session, I’m happy to report we delivered real results on pretty much every single one of these. And in each case, the bill I was able to help pass did so on a big bipartisan vote. Let’s go over them —
Supporting our nursing workforce:
We know we need enough nurses in our hospitals to give patients the quality care they need. I was involved in negotiations to find ways to attack this problem from every angle — enforcing staffing requirements to make sure hospitals have enough nurses on staff, cutting red tape and bureaucracy for nurses moving to Washington to work, helping rural hospitals having a hard time attracting staff and more. It was a complex package of legislation, but after some tough talks, we reached a great solution I think will work for everyone. You can read more in the Spokesman-Review.
Funding special education:
Right now, there’s a cap on how much special education money goes out from the state to each school district — if more than 13.5%of students in a school district need special education services, the costs involved go up, but the state funding doesn’t. In the Senate, we passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman in our neighboring 41st District to raise that cap for school districts. State funding is the best way to make sure students who require special education services get the help they need. You can read a bit more about that here.
We passed a bipartisan bill I think will do a lot of good for people who are struggling with substance use disorder and need help. It will offer people who are in trouble the support they need and ensure our treatment programs have the resources to succeed, but it also includes consequences for those who walk away from treatment or don’t engage, helping push them toward doing the right thing. This bill isn’t extreme to the right or left — we aren’t making drug possession a felony as some asked for, nor are we decriminalizing drugs like some have sought to do. This is a balanced, reasonable approach to an issue that hurts far too many Washingtonians. You can watch my floor speech here.
Just before the 5 p.m. deadline to move bills out of the Senate on Wednesday, we passed a compromise bill to restore the ability of police to pursue violent criminals. Just like with our drug addiction bill, neither the far right nor the far left liked it — personally I didn’t think it was perfect either, but it was a big improvement to our status quo. I was glad to have a chance to vote for it, ensuring police have the authority to pursue violent criminals to help catch bad guys and keep folks safe. You can read a little on KIRO news here.
College in the High School:
The Senate passed my bill to remove fees for College in the High School by a unanimous vote this week. Our school districts in the 5thLD are some of the biggest users of this option for high schoolers to get dual credit for high school and college courses. It will help more students access this great program. You can read more about it here.
I quickly discussed these policies in my weekly video – give it a watch here.
What’s next? Now all of our Senate bills are over in the House to be debated, amended and voted on, while we do the same with all the House bills passed over to us.
Thanks for reading and following along with all the progress we’re making this session. We’ve gotten a lot done, but we’ve got a lot left to do. Feel free to keep in touch with me at Mark.Mullet@leg.wa.gov!
Sen. Mark Mullet