District 19 Representatives File Home Bursary Bills, Fireworks Bans Easier | Government and politics
Representatives from District 19 tabled two bills on Monday in preparation for next month’s legislative session.
Representative Jim Walsh’s Bill 1633 is touted as an expansion of school choice for parents by creating a funding program that tracks students out of public schools. Joel McEntire introduced the House Bill 1638, which facilitates the enactment of temporary fireworks bans by cities and counties.
McEntire’s bill shortens the timeframe for effective fireworks bans in cities and counties from one year to 90 days. The bill also allows for even faster emergency bans to be put in place if localities are informed by firefighters that “environmental conditions make the risk of fireworks causing an uncontrollable fire high.”
McEntire said the bill came at the behest of voters in Pacific County. Regardless of why cities might want to limit fireworks further, McEntire said the faster turnaround time would give communities more control and autonomy over the issue.
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“Every day less than a year that you give them is simply more power to make an immediate decision for their local welfare,” McEntire said.
Joe Fitzgibbon, a Democrat representing District 34, is co-sponsoring the bill and McEntire said he was optimistic the issue will receive broader bipartisan support than previous restrictions on fireworks.
Clark County is one of the few jurisdictions in Washington that already allows fire danger to trigger fireworks bans. The county banned the sale and use of fireworks in all unincorporated areas in late June, amid the first of two heat waves to hit Washington, after the county hit several indicators of extreme fire hazard.
Walsh Introduces Billion Dollar School Choice Bill
House Bill 1633 would create a Family Empowerment Scholarship Program that would be responsible for providing 100,000 scholarships of $ 10,000 to families of students interested in home schooling, sending their child to a private school, or changing districts. school.
The total of the scholarships translates to $ 1 billion per year in the proposed new program, not including the costs to the state to administer and operate it. The program would receive funding from the Education Legacy Trust, which provides approximately $ 30 billion to public schools and universities.
Walsh told KVI radio host Avi Hoffman on Tuesday that the growing number of students withdrawn from public schools last year should be a “wake-up call” for the state. He said the scholarship or vouchers would reward successful schools and provide financial leverage to parents who disagree with their school’s management of COVID-19-related education practices or topics.
“We don’t want to deprive public schools of resources. We want to create a system that encourages public schools to be better and to serve families and children more effectively,” Walsh said.
McEntire said he had to read Walsh’s bill, but would likely end up signing to support it.
Walsh’s Bill indicates that Washington students have seen their skills decline for several years. Data from tests for the past two school years were not available due to the pandemic, but figures from the statewide report card released by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Education are largely at variance.
The report card shows that the number of students meeting grade standards increased from 2015 to 2019 for math and English / language arts. The pass rate for ninth graders has increased over the same period. High school graduation rates increased or remained stable each year between 2013 and 2020.
On the other hand, the National Assessment of Educational Progress has a more mixed picture of how Washington students stack up against the rest of the country. Since 2003, the math and reading scores of the state’s fourth and eighth graders have remained unchanged or slightly down.
The fireworks bill is the only new initiative introduced by McEntire on Thursday. Walsh pre-tabled two additional bills that would strike down the limits on the use of force and suspicious prosecutions that were enacted in the 2021 legislative session.
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