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January 15, 2016      
 Inside this issue
  2016 Session Begins  
  The Legislature has begun the first week of the 2016 session with lawmakers returning, bills scheduled and the governor giving his State of the State message.The first part of each regular session of the Legislature is dominated by work in the various House and Senate committees. Legislative committees have three main types of hearings: work sessions, public hearings, and executive sessions. During work sessions, invited experts present information to a committee on a given topic. At a public hearing, anyone can present testimony on scheduled pieces of legislation. When a committee is in executive session, there is no public hearing; rather the members discuss and vote on select bills previously heard in committee.Bills that did not pass in the 2015 legislative session are still "alive" in 2016. Often bills that received a hearing in 2015 and passed a committee or a chamber will move quickly in 2016.In this week's Bulletin, the bills covered are ones for which hearings have been scheduled for the week of Jan. 18 or were previously heard. Hundreds of bills are introduced each year, but not all of them are heard. A bill needs to be heard in committee before being scheduled for a vote. If a bill doesn't receive a hearing, there is little chance it will ever become law.  
  Parental Notification  
  SB 5289 would require parental notification for a minor considering an abortion. Recognizing that those under the age of 18 need the support and assistance of their parents, almost all medical procedures for minors require parental consent, not just parental notification.  For example, school personnel must have a parent's consent before administering aspirin to a minor child. WSCC supports SB 5289. The bill is in the Senate Rules Committee having passed the Law and Justice Committee in the 2015 legislative session. The bill must be voted out of committee in order to be placed on the floor of the Senate for a vote of the entire Senate.
ACTION: Call 1-800-562-6000 and ask your Senator to support SB 5289.
  Breakfast After the Bell  
  HB 1295 would require each high-needs school to offer breakfast after the bell to qualified students, and provide adequate time for students to eat. The bill passed the House in 2015, but did not pass the Senate. When the 2015 session ended, the bill was returned to the House. The House Education Committee passed the bill on Thursday, Jan. 14, and the House Appropriations Committee has scheduled a public hearing and a vote on HB 1295 for Monday, Jan. 18. WSCC supports HB 1295.
ACTION: Call your representatives (1-800-562-6000) and ask them to support HB 1295.
  Charter Schools  
  SB 6194 would authorize charter schools and address the Washington Supreme Court's concerns by designating charter schools as schools which are not common schools and by funding them through the Washington Opportunity Pathways Account. It has already passed the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. On Monday, Jan. 18, the Senate Ways & Means Committee will hold a hearing on SB 6194.Another charter schools bill is SB 6163 which would address the Court's concerns of non-common school status and funding source by authorizing school districts to create district charter schools within the district. The Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee held a hearing on Jan. 12 regarding SB 6163.WSCC is monitoring these bills.  
  Homeless Students  
  On Thursday, Jan. 21, the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that seeks to stabilize students who are homeless. SB 6298 would create a competitive grant process to evaluate and award state-funded three-year grants to school districts to increase identification of homeless students and to assess the capacity of the districts to provide support. The bill would also establish a grant program to link homeless students and their families with stable housing located in the homeless student's school district. WSCC supports SB 6298.  
  Gun Control  
  The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday, Jan. 21, covering several bills on gun control. The hearing will include testimony on the following two bills:
  • HB 1747 would create the crime of child endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm. The bill would also require a firearms dealer, when selling a firearm, to offer to sell or give the purchaser a locked box, a lock, or a device that prevents the firearm from discharging.
  • HB 2372 would further restrict the disposition of forfeited firearms in the custody of law enforcement agencies by requiring most weapons be destroyed.
  Mental Health  
  On Wed., Jan. 20, the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee will have a work session on children's mental health issues. The committee will also hear HB 2439. This bill would increase access to adequate and appropriate mental health services for children and youth. HB 2439 would create a children's mental health work group to identify barriers to access of mental health services for children and families and to advise the legislature on statewide mental health services for this population.  
  The House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs committee will consider housing when it meets on Tuesday, Jan. 19. In a work session, the committee will hear from invited experts about the state's affordable housing policy.  
  Carbon Emissions  
  On Thursday, Jan. 21, the Senate Energy and Environment & Telecommunications Committee will hold a hearing on a carbon tax bill. SB 6306 would impose a fossil fuel carbon pollution tax upon the carbon content of fossil fuels extracted, manufactured, or introduced into the state, equal to eight dollars per metric ton of carbon dioxide. WSCC is monitoring this bill.  
  Voting Rights  

HB 1745 would protect the equal opportunity to participate in elections for minority groups by establishing a state voting rights act. The bill would promote equal voting opportunity in certain political subdivisions by authorizing district-based elections, requiring redistricting and new elections in certain circumstances. In the 2015 session, HB 1745 passed the House and passed the Senate Government Operations & Security Committee, but stalled in the Senate Rules Committee. On Tuesday, Jan. 19, the House State Government committee will hold a hearing on HB 1745.Click here to view WSCC bulletins on our website.

The Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) is the public policy voice of the Catholic Bishops of Washington State.