Ninth-grade program gets money, initiatives to get hearings

It’s day 47, here is what’s happening in the Legislature.

OLYMPIA – A mere 13 days remain for legislators to wrap up their business in the House and Senate.

Monday is the last day for fiscal committees to pass bills from the opposite house. Then, legislators are expected to be on the floor for the next week and a half to pass all the bills they can, including the supplemental budgets.

All the proposed budgets are out, so the House and Senate will now begin reconciling their plans for operations, capital projects and transportation.

Student funding

This week, educators thanked Senate budget-writers for including their ask of $3 million to keep the Ninth Grade Success Grant program going.

Back when the governor’s proposed budget was released in January, school districts were hoping to see money, but didn’t. The program uses staff to devise plans on keeping ninth graders passing their classes and on track to graduate.

The Everett, Mukilteo and Stanwood-Camano districts use the program and have shown strides in ninth grade on-track rates.

Cascade High School is in its second year of the program. Assistant Principal Kate Vafaeezadeh said the program allows Cascade to support students from the moment they walk in the door to the moment they graduate.

“Our rate of freshmen passing all their ninth-grade classes is the highest it’s been in nine years,” she told the Ways and Means Committee on Monday.

Passing ninth grade is a key indicator of graduating high school.

Hiring law enforcement

A bill from Rep. Julio Cortes, D-Everett, to make a small step toward addressing police understaffing is on its way to the governor’s desk after clearing both the House and Senate.

Rather than only accepting U.S. citizens, the Cortes bill allows people with green cards to apply for jobs at law enforcement agencies.

“This bill recognizes the potential in our diverse communities,” Cortes said in a press release. “By opening doors to talent beyond citizenship, we can strengthen public safety and ensure equal opportunity.”

The Senate is also looking to open law enforcement positions for more people. Sponsored by Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, Senate Bill 6157 would allow DACA recipients to serve. The bill is waiting to be approved by the House floor.

Initiatives

Next week, lawmakers will hear the public’s thoughts on three of the six citizen initiatives to the Legislature spearheaded by conservative activists. Democratic leadership decided to hold public hearings on these initiatives:

I-2111: Preventing a statewide income tax

I-2113: Loosening restrictions on police pursuits

I-2081: Allowing parents to request their students’ public school records and curriculum

After the public hearings, legislators could decide to pass the initiatives as they are or leave it up to the voters.

The remaining three initiatives will not have hearings and will be sent straight to the November ballot.

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