As first legislative deadline nears, proponents push big policy ideas
Monday, March 25, 2019
The first legislative session deadline looms, and it is already affecting advocates in the Capitol.
The Legislature’s policy committees operate on procedural deadlines, and the first significant deadline is March 29. Committees must give notice, or post work sessions, of all the bills that might get a vote this session.
Except for the financial and rules committees, all House bills in House committees and Senate bills in Senate committees must be posted for a vote by March 29. If a bill is not posted, then it is procedurally unable to be voted out of committee. It is, in Capitol parlance, dead. Even if it is posted, if it is not actually voted out of committee by April 8, then it is also dead.
Proponents of bills are very aware of the posting deadline. The more relaxed pace of February and early March is gone. Urgency abounds, and the education committees are not exempt.
Last week, the House and Senate Education committees heard bills about student restraint (Senate Bill 963), electronic transcripts (SB 17), statewide use of the SAT/ACT tests (SB 157), post-secondary tuition (SB 859 and 958), small and remote school use of Measure 98 funds (House Bill 2385), educator attraction and retention (HB 3010), family engagement (HB 2990), and a host of other topics.
Committees have responded to the upcoming deadline differently, a reflection of differing committee chairs’ style and approach. The House Education Committee, for example, has posted agendas for all meetings through April 8. Senate Education, in contrast, has posted agendas for this week and no further.
These agendas can be changed until March 29, but it is sometimes instructive to see what has been posted and what has not.
For OSBA members, this week will have some bills of note. In Senate Education, there will be a major discussion about sexual misconduct by school employees, under the guise of three bills (SB 155, 156 and 960). These bills represent almost a year of work by all major education stakeholder groups and the Legislature. These are big bills.
In contrast, SB 665, an OSBA-sponsored bill to allow school districts to develop policies to store medicine used to combat opioid overdose, is scheduled for a hearing and possible work session Wednesday, March 27. This is a relatively narrow policy bill that came about because of a school board member’s concern, but it is important to address all these bills, big and small, for the sake of students.