WACTCSA bills advance, committee hearings start back
There comes a time during session where agencies and other stakeholders get a semi-slow week. That time is when floor cutoff approaches. This past Wednesday was the floor cutoff for bills to be voted out of their originating chamber by 5 p.m. Both chambers were working diligently into the night debating and voting on bills to make sure they pass cutoff. Needless to say, I was binging TVW while I was away from the Capitol so I was up-to-date on the latest floor action. The moment TVW becomes your interim for Netflix, you know you’re married to WALEG.
This week all eyes were on the two WACTCSA agenda item bills to pass cutoff. HB 1488 was placed before the House on final passage and passed with a vote of 56-42. I got word that the bill was going to be debated in the evening. As I was listening to TVW on my way home from South Puget Sound Community College, my bill made it to the floor for debate. It’s always a guessing game to know when a bill will be debated on the floor. I rushed right over to the Capitol and made it in time to see the final vote in the wings of the Senate. HB 1488 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Higher Education and Workforce on Feb. 20 at 8 a.m.
SB 6110 and HB 1298 started out identical at the beginning of session. Since then there have been amendments made to both bills. HB 1298 passed the house on Feb. 7 on a 52 to 46 vote. This bill was the second bill WACTCSA followed, but did not make out of its chamber by Wednesday. HB 1298 has great intent to provide equal access and opportunity to employment regardless of a person’s background. HB 1298 will have its public hearing in the Senate Labor and Commerce on Feb. 19 at 1:30 p.m. It’s imperative that this legislation gets passed so students that work as hard as they do have a fair chance to use their degree to get a job. We need to make sure our system is set up to help our students succeed.
From one legislative cutoff to the next, session is starting to come to an end. Next Friday is the policy cutoff, meaning Feb. 19-23 will consist of a plethora of hearings. That cutoff will be followed by marathon hearings in House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means. These Saturday hearings are no joke. HB 1488 was heard in Appropriations weeks ago, and my bill was number 27 on the docket. It was just three bills away from being heard, and then the chair entertained a motion to caucus for an hour. Word of advice, friends: be prepared for a long day if you are testifying.
Today being day 40 of the 60 day session, it’s hard to imagine the Legislature winding down on March 8. With all the efforts students have made this session, it’s looking like the Legislature has gotten the message to invest in the future of higher education.