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Policy committees back at work following first floor cutoff

February 21, 2020 by SBCTC Communications

The Legislature reached a major milestone Wednesday when bills had to be voted out of their chamber of origin to continue in the legislative process. Bills on allowing students to use the Dual Enrollment Scholarship program to buy apprenticeship materials, prohibiting colleges from withholding transcripts as a means of debt collection and hiring practices related to sexual misconduct passed their chambers, while bills on corrections education, college employee housing and uniform reporting of college fiscal details all died.

The Senate released its version of the capital budget late Wednesday, holding a hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee late Thursday, and voting it out of committee Friday.

Low-cost course materials, sexual misconduct hiring practices, veterans bills heard in Senate higher education committee

Feb. 20 — The Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee got right back to work Thursday hearing bills that passed the House. On its agenda was a bill, HB 1702, that would require community and technical colleges to indicate during registration which courses offered low-cost books and course materials. Low-cost is defined at $50 or less. That bill was scheduled to be voted on by the Senate during the 2019 session, but returned to the House after the session ended. It passed the House this session with a 96 to 0 vote.

Also on the agenda was ESHB 2327, a bill addressing hiring practices at colleges and universities with regard to applicants' history of sexual misconduct. It would also require colleges and universities to conduct every five years a campus climate assessment to  gauge the prevalence of sexual misconduct on campuses. 

The committee also heard SHB 2543, a bill that would provide in-state residency status to students who are separating from the military, along with their spouse and dependents.

Low-cost course materials

Boyoung Chae, policy associate for educational technology and open education at the State Board, and Christie Fierro, a faculty member and instructional designer at Olympic College, testified in favor of the low-cost designation bill. Also testifying in favor of the bill were Deanna George, a Tacoma Community College student, and Matthew Rounsley, a Centralia College student, both interns at the State Board.

Chae provided the committee a brief background of open educational resources (OER) and low-cost resources at community and technical colleges. Legislation passed in 2017 requires ctcLink colleges to show during registration whether courses offer OER books and materials. Chae said that as colleges began implementing OER, faculty and instructional support staff realized that other categories of affordable course materials were not included in the OER definition.

"Identifying both OER courses and low-cost courses will allow our students, especially the 38 percent receiving need based financial aid, to make more financially informed choices, which will increase their success and ultimately retention," Chae said.

Fierro described how faculty can use the OER and low-cost designation to negotiate with publishers and lower course material costs for students. She gave an example from Tacoma Community College, where she recently served in a similar role, where a faculty leader for a highly enrolled course used the OER label as a way to work with the publisher to match the price of a lower-cost textbook. That course is now using all OER, at no cost to students.

"The low-cost label was a powerful bridge that reduced student expense from $150 to $50 and then to zero," she said. "I would love to see the positive effects that Tacoma experienced trickle around our whole state."

George told the committee how the OER designation at TCC helped her as she chose which classes to register for. Affordable course materials, she said, help students, especially those from low-income families or those with dependents, stay in school.

"And as a Tacoma Community College student, I do take pride in the fact that I can make an informed decision when I register for classes, and that means that the risk of my believing that I can't afford a class when I actually can is relatively low," she said. "It also means that I don't have to run through all of the courses and go back and forth from the enrollment page to the bookstore website to determine whether or not classes are available with low-cost materials."

Rounsley estimated that he has spent nearly $1,000 on books during his nearly two years as a college student.

"I am fortunately able to work full-time while being a full-time college student, so I have the funds to cover books when they are required for classes, but I've seen the exact opposite for those of my fellow students who can't do that," he said. "Students who work full-time to cover the cost of college would have weight lifted off their shoulders and work a few less hours a week."

Hiring practices related to sexual misconduct

Ed McCallister, human resources director at the State Board, testified in support of the hiring practices bill but expressed concerns with the cost of its campus climate assessment requirement. The State Board conducted a similar survey in 2015 without outside resources. The response rate was low — about 2 percent from students.

"Higher education has subject matter experts on content, but we don't have the expertise on building and distributing an assessment tool needed to ensure a higher response," he said.

Because of that experience, McCallister said, the college system is requesting funding to contract with an outside organization that would conduct the assessment, an anticipated cost of $77,000 every five years.

Veterans and dependent in-tuition bill

Scott Copeland, associate director for campus relations and policy guidance at the State Board, testified in favor of the bill that would ensure in-state residency status to students who are separating from the military, along with their spouse and dependents. He told the committee that it helps students and clarifies for college staff the correct tuition rate for those students.

"It's a great opportunity for our soon-to-be-veterans and their families, as well as all of our college staff, to make sure we charge the correct tuition for these students," he said.

Senate's version of capital budget released with no new funding for community and technical colleges

Feb. 20 — The Senate's version of the capital budget was released Wednesday with no new funding for the community and technical college system. The Senate Ways and Means Committee took up the bill, SB 6248, at its hearing Thursday. Wayne Doty, capital budget director for the State Board, testified on behalf of the college system. The proposed budget removes funding for the Shoreline Community College Allied Health, Science and Manufacturing replacement project following the college's Board of Trustees decision to put the project on hold while the college finalizes which programs will be housed in the new building. Doty asked the committee to keep that funding in the college system, moving it to the next projects on the college system's capital budget request list.

The committee passed the budget proposal at its hearing Friday. It now moves to the full Senate for its consideration.

Bill status roundup

The bills listed below have been featured in this year's Legislative News and survived Wednesday's house of origin cutoff deadline. This status is as of noon Friday.

Bill number Bill title Bill status
HB 2324/SB 6248 Concerning the capital budget

Feb. 25: Scheduled for public hearing in House Capital Budget Committee

Feb. 27: Scheduled for executive session in House Capital Budget Committee

HB 2325/SB 6168 Making 2019-2021 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations

Feb. 24: Scheduled for public hearing in House Appropriations Committee

Feb. 26: Scheduled for executive session in House Appropriations Committee

HB 2327 Addressing sexual misconduct at postsecondary educational institutions Feb. 20: Public hearing in Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee
HB 2513/SB 6140 Prohibiting the practice of transcript withholding and limiting the practice of registration holds at institutions of higher education as debt collection practices

Feb. 17: Passed House 59-39

HB 2542 Concerning tuition waivers for children of eligible veterans

Feb. 20: Public hearing in Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee

SB 6141/HB 2523 Expanding access to higher education Feb. 18: Passed Senate 47-1
SB 6168/HB 2325 Making 2019-2021 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations

Feb. 24: Scheduled for public hearing in Senate Ways and Means

Feb. 25: Scheduled for executive session in Senate Ways and Means

SB 6248/HB 2324 Concerning the capital budget

Feb. 20: Public hearing in Senate Ways and Means

Feb. 21: Executive session in Senate Ways and Means

SB 6374 Concerning apprenticeship materials for dual credit scholarship programs

Feb. 18: Passed Senate 47-1

SB 6492 Addressing workforce education investment funding through business and occupation tax reform Feb. 10: Governor signed

Trustees confirmed by Senate

The following trustees were confirmed by the Senate since noon Feb. 14. This list is as of noon Friday:

Coming up next week

The House and Senate are set to release their versions of the operating budget Monday with hearings scheduled that afternoon. The House is also expected to release its version of the capital budget early next week, with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Policy committees will also be busy next week hearing and voting on bills ahead of their Friday cutoff deadline. Any bills remaining in policy committees after that cutoff will be considered dead for the biennium.

Last Modified: 4/16/21, 4:57 PM
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