Update on Student Association agenda as Legislature reaches Floor Cutoff
As the quarter has come to a close, the State Board said goodbye to Brenda Portaro, the legislative intern from South Puget Sound Community College. During this session, she has participated in multiple advocacy days on the Hill, testified on bills that benefit immigrant students in the community and technical college system, and has met with legislators to advocate for the Washington State Community and Technical College Student Association (WACTCSA) and SBCTC legislative agendas.
The State Board is not the only entity saying goodbye to good members. Eric Pattison, president of the WACTCSA, stepped down from his position last week after being accepted into a program at the University of Washington. Taking the position of President Pro Tempore is Jarrett Martin, former WACTCSA regional director.
A key WACTCSA agenda item has been fully funding the State Need Grant. However, some concern has risen over legislators’ answer to fully funding the grant.
SB 5820 reforms the State Need Grant by raising the minimum GPA requirement, eliminating thousands of previously eligible applicants by making them ineligible. The push back from higher education institutions and students stopped the bill in committee. The argument was that the State Need Grant is need-based, not merit-based. The original intent for this bill would be diminished as students who are most in need would not have access to funding and would therefore not have access to the education they need and desire. This bill died in committee, however, there may be some of this undesired reform appearing in the operating budget bill.
There are still some key bills in play that pertain to the WACTCSA agenda.
- SHB 1129, and its companion SSB 5096, passed in their house of origin and have been referred to committees in the opposite house. This bill grants higher education up to an associate degree for inmates. A public hearing for SSB 5096 has been scheduled for a public hearing in the House Higher Education Committee on March 14 at 8 a.m.
- E2SHB 1375 requires community and technical colleges to provide the cost of the course textbooks or a link to that information at the time of registration. Second, colleges must report which courses provide costs to students and the percentage compared to total classes. This bill passed in the House and is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Higher Education Committee on March 16 at 8 a.m.
- 2SHB 1561 relates to Open Educational Resources (OER). This bill requires the Student Achievement Council to Administer an OER grant pilot program for four-year institutions. They will also develop an application process for reviewing, selecting and awarding applicants. This bill passed in the House and has a hearing scheduled in the Senate Higher Education Committee on March 16 at 8 a.m.