Financial aid and student support bills heard as Legislature wraps up week 2
Every week is a new type of busy at the Legislature and at the State Board. Last week I was running from hearing to hearing, from visit to visit. This week slowed down in regard to the amount of time I spent on the Hill. But the communications side of the upcoming WACTCSA Advocacy Day and SEN Day was at full force.
The beginning of the week began with a couple of visits with legislators who sit on the House or the Senate higher education committee, as well as some on House appropriations. Last week bills 1488, 5074 and 5210 had their public hearing, and this week a couple were scheduled for executive session.
The WACTCSA Ban the Box Bill agenda item SHB 1298 was gaining some momentum this week. It was placed on second reading in the House. The WACTCSA agenda item: Higher education for undocumented students later in the week was making some progress. House Bill 1488 that pertains to expanding the College Bound Scholarship to DACA students, U and T visas, and deferred action status students was scheduled for an executive session on Jan. 24. In conjunction to that, Sen. Ranker proposed SB 6261 to fully fund the State Need Grant and also expand the eligibility from 70 percent of the medium family income to 100 percent.
The WACTCSA redefinition of Basic Education in the Washington state constitution agenda item correlates to HB 5666 which establishes the Washington Promise Program. The bill would create free community college for Washington state residents. And the bills don’t stop there, we are only 10 days into session and the enthusiasm of legislators sends a good signal that we will see progress in higher ed this and next year.
Tuesday, I took part in my first Racial Equity meeting. This is a compilation of agencies and coalitions that come together and track bills affecting minority groups. It was inspiring to know that on top of all the work that comes with legislative session that individuals are committed to uplift the voices of communities of color through advocacy.
Looking ahead to next week, on Jan. 25, students across Washington state will be on the Hill for WACTCSA advocacy. I am so excited to be with my fellow students next week. At the Legislature on multiple occasions I find myself to be the only student in the room. I say "I am here on behalf of the 380,000 students in community and technical colleges” multiple times, but for the legislators to finally see their constituents supporting the bills I have been monitoring/testifying is all the more powerful.
Representative Stambaugh last November said during a Keynote presentation: “Decisions are going to be made that affect you, with or without you being there." That has resonated with me all up until today. And it will continue to motivate me to advocate for my fellow students and myself.