ESSB 6241

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

As Reported by House Committee On:


Title: An act relating to the January 1, 2020, implementation of the school employees' benefits board program.

Brief Description: Concerning the January 1, 2020, implementation of the school employees' benefits board program.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Ways & Means (originally sponsored by Senators Hobbs, Fain, Mullet and Keiser; by request of Health Care Authority).

Brief History:

Committee Activity:

Appropriations: 2/24/18, 2/26/18 [DP].

Brief Summary of Engrossed Substitute Bill

  • Makes clarifying changes to distinguish the Public Employees' Benefits Board (PEBB) from the School Employees' Benefits Board (SEBB) and PEBB-participating or SEBB-participating employees within Health Care Authority (HCA) laws.

  • Provides the HCA with authority to pay school districts for the cost of substitute employees, if needed, for periods when school district employees are serving as members of the SEBB.

  • Clarifies eligibility for SEBB benefits is based on the hours an employee is anticipated to work in a school year.

  • Permits employees to waive SEBB coverage.

  • Specifies that school districts must contribute to the SEBB program for all eligible school employees.

  • Clarifies that charter schools are SEBB participants, unless the HCA receives guidance from the federal government that their employees are not eligible to participate in a governmental employee benefits plan.

  • Creates and amends administrative accounts to enable implementation of the SEBB program.

  • Permits local bargaining for optional benefits and expanded eligibility as an enhancement or enrichment to the program of basic education.

  • Requires funding to be allocated to school districts at the same or greater level than what is provided to state agencies for public employee benefits.

  • Eliminates SEBB provision of optional benefits to school employees, and permits school districts to offer optional benefits as an enhancement to basic education after January 1, 2020.


Majority Report: Do pass. Signed by 19 members: Representatives Ormsby, Chair; Robinson, Vice Chair; Bergquist, Cody, Fitzgibbon, Haler, Hansen, Hudgins, Jinkins, Kagi, Lytton, Pettigrew, Pollet, Sawyer, Senn, Springer, Stanford, Sullivan and Tharinger.

Minority Report: Do not pass. Signed by 14 members: Representatives Chandler, Ranking Minority Member; MacEwen, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Stokesbary, Assistant Ranking Minority Member; Buys, Caldier, Condotta, Graves, Harris, Manweller, Schmick, Taylor, Vick, Volz and Wilcox.

Staff: David Pringle (786-7310).


In 2017 the Legislature created the nine-member School Employees' Benefits Board (SEBB) with the enactment of Engrossed House Bill (EHB) 2242.  Under this bill, beginning January 1, 2020, all public schools must provide health care and related benefits to employees through the SEBB program, administered by the Health Care Authority (HCA).

The state allocates funding to each school district for employee fringe benefits such as health care and for the cost to districts of covering retiree health care for state-funded kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) staff units. Although the state allocates the funding, prior to EHB 2242 and until January 1, 2020, each district purchases health benefits separately and bargains locally with its employees regarding the specific benefits package. Employee and employer contributions vary by district, and by bargaining units within districts.

A legislatively mandated study by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) completed in 2016 indicated that the share of the costs of coverage paid by school district employees who insure only themselves was typically much lower than for those who also insure their family members.  The JLARC study also concluded that while slight improvement was made toward goals set by the Legislature in 2012 to achieve greater equity between individual and family premiums, targets set by the Legislature were unmet.

The SEBB's membership consists of:

The SEBB's responsibilities include:

In addition to consolidating health care purchasing for school district employees, EHB 2242 also removed medical, dental, vision, and other basic and optional insurance benefits from the scope of local school district bargaining.  Similarly to how state employees bargain for health care, health benefit provisions will be bargained between the Governor or the Governor's designee and one coalition of all the exclusive bargaining representatives impacted by benefit purchasing with the SEBB. Bargaining must be initiated after July 1, 2018. 

Engrossed House Bill 2242 also provided limitations on the use of local school district levy funds. Beginning with the 2019-20 school year, districts may spend enrichment levies (including transportation vehicle enrichment levies), local effort assistance, and other local revenues only for documented and demonstrated enrichment of the state's program of basic education. To constitute enrichment, a school district expenditure must supplement state minimum instructional offerings, staffing ratios, program components, or professional learning allocations. Permitted forms of enrichment consist of extracurricular activities, extended school days or school years, additional course offerings, early learning, administration of enrichment activities, and additional activities approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) through the pre-ballot review process. The SPI may report to the Legislature on expanding the list of specifically permitted enrichment activities.


Summary of Bill:

The following changes are made, which relate to the administration of the SEBB by the HCA:


Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Preliminary fiscal note available.

Effective Date: This bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed, except for sections 12, 22, 23, 31, and 32, relating to providing data and contracts associated with startup of the Employees' Benefits Board, which contain an emergency clause and take effect immediately.

Staff Summary of Public Testimony:

(In support) This bill incorporates related ideas from other bills. The difficult questions around the 630-hour eligibility threshold are addressed by allowing a district to provide benefit eligibility as an enhancement, and provide additional benefits as well.  This bill began as agency-request legislation, and contains many important clarifications and corrections.  The data component is very important, allowing the OIC data collected between 2012 and 2017 to be shared with the HCA, while protecting the confidentiality of the data.  The stakeholders have worked hard to craft these changes and it maintains the original policies.

(Opposed) None.

Persons Testifying: Julie Salvi, Washington Education Association; David Iseminger, Employees and Retirees Benefits Division, Washington Health Care Authority; Doug Nelson, Public School Employees–Service Employees International 1948; and Jessica Vavrus, Washington State School Directors' Association.

Persons Signed In To Testify But Not Testifying: None.