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Opinion Northwest

Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

May 31, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Important bills deserve passage before Washington Legislature’s special session ends

Over the next couple weeks, lawmakers will attempt to negotiate a state budget and get out of Olympia. They’ve got their work cut out for them. Many bills remain stalled, even if they are common sense and deserve action this year. I’d like to start keeping a running list. Let us know what bills you’re tracking in the comments below, visit the Seattle Times Opinion page on Facebook, or send a tweet to@seatimesopinion using the hashtag #WALegWish.

Senator Mark Schoesler, left, Republican leader, and Sen. Rodney Tom, right, a Democrat who crossed party lines to give the GOP control in the Senate, during opening day of the Washington State Legislature, Monday., Jan. 14, 2013, in Olympia. Wash. (KEN LAMBERT/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

Senator Mark Schoesler, left, Republican leader, and Sen. Rodney Tom, right, a Democrat who crossed party lines to give the GOP control in the Senate, during opening day of the Washington State Legislature, Monday., Jan. 14, 2013, in Olympia. Wash. (KEN LAMBERT/THE SEATTLE TIMES)

At the top of my list is HB 1574, a bill to fund investigators for abuse complaints against disabled residents in group-home settings. The measure is stuck in the Senate. There’s no reason for this. The state’s Complaint Resolution Unit has a backlog of nearly 2,900 intake reports. Here’s an excerpt from our April 29 editorial: “Providers generally are not opposed to paying the fee. Matching funds are available. The money is dedicated to investigating complaints against supported-living facilities. And there’s obviously a need.”

Don’t hold this bill hostage. Lawmakers should move it forward.

After surveying my colleagues, here’s just a few of many other measures our editorial board would suggest lawmakers take action on during this special session: 

  • Pass SB 5242, the so-called “mutual consent” bill that would require a principal’s consent before a teacher is permanently assigned to a school. From our May 15 editorial: “The Washington Education Association portrays this as an attack on teachers. It is not. ‘Mutual consent’ is the general rule of professional work. A high-quality system should retain and reward the successful teachers and let go the persistently underperforming ones. There won’t be that many of them, but for the sake of the students it has to be done.”
  • Spend more on early learning and expand programs. As we stated in our May 18 editorial: “Preschool is a benefit that trickles up. Research shows high-quality preschool saves school districts about $3,700 per child over the K-12 years.”
  • Take action on workers’ compensation reform outlined in SB 5127. “Passage of this bill will also offset much, and perhaps all, of the $1.8 billion extra that the state Department of Labor and Industries says will be needed over the next 10 years to put the state disability funds on a prudent basis,” we wrote in our May 22 editorial.

What matters related to the budget would you like to see passed before the special session ends? Again, leave a comment, send me an email, visit the Seattle Times Opinion page on Facebook, or send a tweet to @seatimesopinion using the hashtag #WALegWish.

Comments | Topics: disability rights, early learning, Education

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