News

Sixty percent rule stays in school

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

State Sen. Tracey Eide’s bill to make school levies and bond measures pass with simple majorities is in the state Senate’s “X files.”

Despite a House and Senate controlled by her fellow Democrats, Eide’s Senate Bill 5144 expired in the Senate earlier this month.

It was the ninth time Eide (D-Federal Way and 30th District) tried to get legislation approved for school proposals to pass with a simple majority. She argued when the Legislature started its session in January that a simple majority of voters –– 50 percent plus one –– can approve a bond to build a jail, but school measures needed a super majority –– at least 60 percent –– to pass.

Representatives of Eide said that barring any major political maneuvers, the bill is finished this year.

If the bill had passed, another hurdle would have been voter approval. The super majority has been part of the constitution since the 1940s.

Voters should have the chance to decide how school bonds should pass, Eide said at the start of the legislative session.

While Eide’s bill is on the shelf, state Rep. Skip Priest’s proposal for an alternative to the state assessment test is in limbo.

House Bill 1987 would have directed the state’s superintendent of public instruction to research and determine the viability of students taking another path to graduation.

It passed the House, but when it went to the Senate, an amendment was attached that complicated matters.

This year’s freshmen in high school will have to pass the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) next year to graduate in 2008. Priest (R-30th District and Federal Way) wants to know if they can opt for a program involving professional training in a trade.

Priest argued the trade training would have to be just as rigorous as the WASL. Not all students are interested in college, but should have an education that will allow them to get a well-paid job, he said.

The amendment came from Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D-1st District) after her earlier bill failed in the House, Priest said.

It also addresses state assessment testing, including students being allowed to appeal test results. Priest said there is some discussion of whether the amendment is entirely germane to his bill.

Priest’s bill has until Sunday to pass before the legislative session is scheduled to end. It’s not uncommon for sessions to last well past the deadline, however.

Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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