Two years ago, Rep. Lytton took Whatcom County by storm. Arriving from Anacortes, this articulate school board president power mom swept through the primary and on to the general. As a legislator, of the twelve bills of which she was the primary sponsor, five were signed into law (as opposed to Ericksen’s lousy ONE bill that was signed into law). She was so successful that the Republicans could not find a single warm body willing to run against her in 2012. Now she’s back in Olympia with a whole fresh batch of legislation to try to get passed. Let’s take a look.
Education Bills: Naturally, Rep. Lytton’s first passion is education, and she isn’t wasting any time. These descriptions are my interpretations, so as always, you can click the name of the bill and see the actual text if you want more information.
HB 1067 – Teacher Evaluation Program Support. This is an effort to fix an issue that arose after the last session. Basically, in 2010, the state legislature enacted a pretty rigorous teacher evaluation program to ensure we weed out the bad teachers and keep the good ones. Naturally, this created a ton more work for the administration (i.e. the principal) of most public schools. This bill would allocate some money to help cover that expense, allowing them to hire a part-time person to help if needed.
HB 1177 – Modify the Education Accountability to Allow State Involvement. This bill is about local control dealing with the fall out of “No Child Left Behind.” Right now, we use a federal assessment system to decide which schools are “failing” and need resources, and which ones are not. This bill would require the Office of the Superintendent (OSPI) to create its own list of top priority schools based on local considerations and resources. OSPI could then work directly with the schools to help fix long-standing issues.
HB 1178 – Using Alternative Assessments for Basic Skills. Every teacher has to pass a “basic skills” test before they can be certified in the field they are teaching. These are mainly reading, writing and mathematics skills. According to Rep. Lytton, this bill would allow a test “comparable of rigor” to be substituted, with the goal “to encourage candidates from underrepresented populations to apply.”
HB 1369 – Using School days for Parent Teacher Meetings in Kindergarten. The title pretty much says it all. Kindergarten teachers are required to complete a “skills inventory” of every new student and this includes meeting with the parents. If this passes, they will be able to use a few school days to complete this task rather than meeting on Saturdays or after hours.
HB 1075 and HB 1323 – Sea Cucumbers and Dungeness Crab. These two bills have to do with fishing boats. The first (HB 1075) allows a fishing boat to carry more than one Dungeness crab license. The sea cucumber bill is a bit more complicated. Reading through the legal text, it looks like a bunch of patches to the existing sea cucumber diving business: determining the number of divers per license, deciding what happens if not enough licenses are sold, assessing fees and deciding how those fees are spent. If you find this stuff fascinating, please give it a read. I got lost.
HB 1159 – Increasing the Number of Superior Court Judges in Whatcom County. Yes, this is the companion bill to the legislation that Sens. Kevin Ranker and Doug Ericksen are sponsoring in the Senate. Basically, we need another judge to handle the backlog of cases. In an interesting side note, this seems to be a pretty straightforward bipartisan effort. A common sense solution to a problem in our county. Naturally, neither Rep. Vincent Buys or Rep. Jason Overstreet’s names are anywhere near this. They aren’t sponsors, and I will be very curious to see if they vote for it.
HB 1189 – Ensuring Balance on the Fish and Wildlife Commission. This bill will change the “guidelines” on who should be appointed to the Fish and Wildlife Commission to “requirements.” Right now, it is recommended that out of the nine commissioners, we appoint three from each side of the state, and three at-large. Similarly, there will need to be a representative from commercial fisheries, hunters, sportfishers, private landowners and environmentalists. So why now? These positions are appointed by the governor, but have to be confirmed by the state Senate and with the state Senate in Republican hands, this bill would clarify the requirements before anyone tries to exploit that loophole.
HB 1188 – WSU Mount Vernon Helps Assess What Ag Land is Underused. This would direct the Department of Agriculture to work with WSU Mount Vernon (yes, they have a satellite office there,) to create a program to find land that could be very productive agricultural property but is being underused. This program would then help support turning that land into a productive agricultural resource.
The Leftover Bits
HB 1366 – Marine Tourism Bill. This bill is aimed at allowing boaters from out of state to stay longer and get more work in our shipyards, spending more time and money in Washington.
Looking over the rest, there are two bills that just got filed having to do with wolves. Since they are just filed, I don’t have the documents on them yet, but I plan to include them in a follow-up in the next couple of weeks.
That’s it for now! Next up (hopefully) Kevin Ranker’s legislative efforts.
UPDATE: Rep. Lytton responds to this blog post in the comments. Also pasted up here:
Riley…thanks for including legislation that I am working on in your blog! Together, these bills reflect the values of my district, with a focus on job creation, education, and agriculture.
As you know, I represent a unique district with a wide range of issues, from tourism in the San Juan Islands to farming in the Skagit and education in Bellingham. The common denominator in the 40th—and across the state—is an interest in supporting a strong economy and opportunity for all.
We know that providing a quality education is the best investment we can make in the future for our children, our workforce, and our state. Therefore, my top priority for this session will be to fully fund education and effectively implement House Bill 2261 and Senate Bill 6696 in accordance with the Supreme Court decision. My work with local school districts and the various education taskforces has led to several bills intended to strengthen our accountability systems for challenged schools, increase diversity in our faculty, and offer more flexibility for districts to innovate and find efficiencies.
In meeting with business leaders and stakeholders, I have also seen the need for legislation to support marine tourism, commercial fisheries and agriculture interests in my district and across the state. These bills will support jobs in key industries for my district and across the state.
With regard to the Teacher/Principal Evaluations, my focus has always been on ensuring a great teacher in every classroom and a great principal in every building.