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Notes From Olympia: Feb. 3, Week 4 of the 2023 Legislative Session

This edition includes a review of this week’s bill hearings, details on caseload forecast updates, trivia and more!

Erica Hallock February 3, 2023
  • Policy and Systems
  • Blog

wahington capitolA Gorgeous Sunny Sunday in Olympia
(Photo Credit: Erica Hallock)


What was the capstone event of Washington state’s yearlong centennial celebration in 1989?

Bill Hearings

House Human Services, Youth, and Early Learning Committee

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, the House Human Services, Youth, and Early Learning Committee held a hearing on a variety of early learning focused bills:

  • The hearing on House Bill 1451, a child care workforce pipeline bill that would create a Child Care Worker Pilot Program for high school students interested in the field of child care, begins at the 46 minute mark. The bill also looks to increase the child care substitute pool and provide additional assistance to those interested in continuing to pursue a child care career.
  • The hearing on House Bill 1525, which would provide child care subsidy for parents in state-approved apprenticeship programs and, according to Committee Chair Tana Senn, may have the most legislative co-sponsors for any piece of legislation this session, begins at the 25 second mark.

Both HB 1451 and HB 1525 are scheduled for Executive Session in the House Human Services, Youth and Early Learning Committee Tuesday, Feb. 7.

  • Finally, the hearing on House Bill 1511, which aims to increase access to affordable child care by exempting social security benefits, social-security income and child support from being considered “income” when determining child care subsidy eligibility, begins at the 1:11 minute mark. This bill particularly supports low-income working families, single parents, parents with disabilities, grandparents and other seniors caring for children. It is slated for Executive Session in the House policy committee Friday, Feb. 10.

House Education Committee

  • The House Education Committee hearing on House Bill 1550 Tuesday, Jan. 31, begins at the 42:30 minute mark. HB 1550 would create the “Transition to Kindergarten” program to be administered jointly by the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). The bill analysis summarizes the bill’s key components, including outlining state agency, school district and program rules and requirements and plans to convert existing “Transitional Kindergarten” programs to the proposed new program.

The bill’s sponsors, Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos and Rep. Tana Senn, began the hearing by framing the bill as an opportunity to codify the new Transition to Kindergarten program as the current Transitional Kindergarten program is not explicitly authorized in law; to require coordination between school and community-based early learning programs; and to ensure the state is on track for meeting the existing ECEAP entitlement by the 2026-27 year.

Supporters of the bill, largely community-based early learning stakeholders, discussed the need for coordination between school districts and early learning providers to ensure child and family needs are met and expressed concerns that the current approach with Transitional Kindergarten may negatively impact early learning providers and may not provide developmentally appropriate education statewide. Groups that signed in with a position of “con” or “other,” mainly K12 system stakeholders, expressed concerns that certain provisions of the bill, in particular the loss of the current funding source for Transitional Kindergarten (Basic Education funding), could lead to fewer pre-K options for children and families, particularly in communities with fewer options for families.

HB 1550 is scheduled for an Executive Session in the House Education Committee Thursday, Feb. 9.

New Legislation Introduced This Week

HB 1676 (Senn). HB 1676 would modify the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers Program (ESIT) by increasing the funding allocation multiplier for the program. The bill would also require monthly reporting of children utilizing the program to occur at the end of each month for services provided within that month.

HB 1697 (Walsh). HB 1697 would eliminate requirements for child care and other learning providers participating in the Early Achievers Quality Rating Improvement System. It would also bar linking the Core Competencies for Early Care and Education to licensing standards.

HB 1716 (Rule). HB 1716 would create a tax credit for employers supporting employee child care needs. The bill would require the Department of Revenue to report details on the tax credit and provide an opening to extend the tax credit if proven successful in increasing access to child care for families.

HB 1739 (Dent). HB 1739 would require the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to create an instructional handbook for child care providers. A child care provider would be exempt from obtaining an early childhood certificate if they signed an attestation indicating the handbook had been read.

Caseload Forecast Update

On Friday, Feb. 10, the Washington state Caseload Forecast Council will meet to receive updated caseload numbers for entitlement programs such as ECEAP, Working Connections Child Care, Early Support for Infants and Toddlers, K-12 enrollment and Corrections (prisons). These caseload numbers will inform the biennial budget that is currently under development. Increases in caseloads will drive further state investment and decreases in caseloads will do the opposite.

The final “revenue report” that informs how much the state will have to spend on these entitlement programs, as well as Collective Bargaining Agreements with represented labor groups and other state investments will be released March 20.

Bill Tracker: Key Early Learning Bills

As the legislative session progresses, our resource page will update with a weekly bill tracker. Please note that legislation changes quickly, so the version on our website may not represent a bill’s latest version as it is published the Thursday of each week.

Trivia Answer

A yearlong celebration of Washington state’s 100 years of statehood culminated in a day-long bash at the State Capitol Nov. 11, 1989. Hundreds of Washingtonians made the trek to Olympia to partake in the festivities.

The day included a fashion show featuring state dignitaries dressed in the height of 1889 fashion and the Enter Act Theatre performing the Washington statehood song (yes, that is a link to a YouTube video of the group rehearsing prior to their performance).

Of course, no party is complete without cake, and KING 5 out of Seattle reported that local bakeries created cakes in the shape of the Legislative Building for guests to enjoy. (Check out the late 1980s hairstyles and the iconic Joyce Taylor).

Cake excitement!
“I want a piece of the dome! I want one of the big doors.”
(Photo Credit: Image from KING 5 segment)

Other highlights included the dedication of a “time capsule,” involving selected 10-year-old “capsule keepers.” (I know one of these “capsule keepers” and hope to interview them for an upcoming trivia item about the time capsule that sits at the southern portion of the Legislative Building). The final celebratory event was fireworks and a laser display.

People unable to visit the Capitol were encouraged to turn on their porch lights to “light the way to the next 100 years.” The state even issued commemorative license plates. I found this one on-sale on eBay for $9.99:

(Photo Credit: eBay)

Finally, not all of the yearlong activities were focused in Olympia. During the time of the centennial, Congressman Tom Foley of Spokane served as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Given Foley’s leadership role, it is not a surprise that a flagship event was held in Foley’s hometown with a visit from then-President George H.W. Bush to Spokane’s Riverfront Park, the site of the 1974 World’s Fair. I came upon a copy of President Bush’s remarks and wanted to share a couple of excerpts that jumped out to me.

Given the acrimony in the nation’s capital today (and politics in general), it can be hard to remember there was a time not that long ago of respect (and friendship) amongst elected officials, even those from the opposite party. Following are President Bush’s opening comments to the group gathered in Spokane:

“Let me say at the very beginning that Washington State is very lucky to have a friend like Tom Foley in the Nation’s Capital. He is a man of integrity, decency, fair play, and — okay, he’s a Democrat, but — [laughter] — he’s a man I’m very proud and honored to work with. And you should be very fortunate to have him as your Congressman, just as I am to have him as the Nation’s Speaker.”

I found it interesting that President Bush’s speech focused largely on environmental challenges facing our country. I pulled out a few portions and they read like something you might hear today:

“And I may be going out on a limb here, but I think most of America thinks of you as the real Washington. Yours is a land of rich resources and resourceful people. Salmon, gold, timber in abundance brought us here, as the promise of the Pacific brought the railroads west. There has always been, and will always be, a sense that the future is being decided here in this gateway to the Pacific.

I took this trip out West because I’m concerned — as I think we all are — about the future of the planet we share. You see, it won’t be enough to restore our balance of trade if we throw off the balance of nature.”

I think we can all agree that we ARE the real Washington.

Do any of you have memories of the centennial celebration you would like to share? Seems like it was a lot of fun!

Bonus Trivia

The longtime Spokesman Review Olympia-based reporter Jim Camden is largely retired, but he continues to pen a weekly column where he takes a deep dive into questions from the Naturalization Test people must pass to become citizens of the United States.

In this week’s column, Camden took a more nuanced look at the basic question of “What is your state’s capital?” Camden notes that while many states changed their capital city over the years, Washington’s has always been Olympia. His column provides very interesting background, some of which we have covered in previous editions of trivia. For those readers that grew up in Washington state, perhaps this background is familiar to what you learned when you studied the history of our state in school. An interesting read!

About the Author

Erica Hallock

Erica Hallock

Director, Policy & Advocacy, Start Early Washington

Erica Hallock serves as the Director of Policy and Advocacy for Start Early Washington. She has worked in early childhood, health and human services policy in both California and Washington state.

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