February 5, 2006 in City

New study of WASL proposed

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The week ahead

Since last Friday and this Tuesday are key bill deadlines, the action moves from committee hearings to debates and votes on the House and Senate floor. The House, in particular, expects to work into the night several days this week, debating and passing hundreds of bills, including ones dealing with education and economic development.

The debate over WASL took a familiar political twist this week.

Instead of scrapping the high-stakes test as a graduation requirement, lawmakers are backing a plan that would establish a new study of why some students have difficulty passing it.

The measure, Senate Bill 6618, which passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously Monday, would require the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to deliver an interim report and recommendations by Dec. 1, with the final report due a year later.

The bill was amended from an original version that would have allowed students to choose from a range of assessments and removed the requirement that they fail the Washington Assessment of Student Learning twice to be eligible for alternate assessments.

Sex offender crackdown: House lawmakers Wednesday unanimously passed a package of 25-year prison sentences for sex predators.

But an activist who favors even stricter laws plans to file a citizen initiative that would go further.

The Democrat-led House sent their sentencing measure to the state Senate on a 97-0 vote Wednesday, after lengthy debate. The measure would impose 25-year minimum sentences for several serious offenses, especially those against children. But sex offenders who target their relatives would be exempted.

Identity theft: A consumer credit measure backed by Attorney General Rob McKenna was scrapped Wednesday by a Senate committee, defeating a major prong of McKenna’s push to curtail identity theft.

The bill would have allowed consumers who fear imminent identity theft to “freeze” their credit – prohibiting financing from being issued in their name and restricting access to their credit histories.

It was defeated on an unrecorded, show-of-hands vote in the Financial Institutions, Housing and Consumer Protection Committee.

Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, cast one of the votes against the measure in committee. He said businesses were worried that they’d be unable to issue credit to or check the records of consumers who had frozen their credit if the bill passed.

“This will make it very difficult for a guy whose insurance expires tomorrow to get coverage,” Benton said. “It could create some other unintended problems for the consumer.”

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