The final gavel has dropped for the 2020 legislative session
60 days ago, the 2020 Legislative session opened, and the outcomes were far from known. Thursday marked the final day of the 2020 legislative session, and my time as an intern is coming to a close.
This session was filled with wins for students. SB 6492 was one of the biggest wins for Washington students as it ensured funding for the Workforce Education Investment Act. Through this funding, more eligible students will be able to receive assistance on their path through college, Guided Pathways will receive a boost in support, and high demand programs will be able to provide competitive wages for their faculty. I followed this legislation throughout the process and testified twice on its importance.
Another win for students is the passage of HB 1702 , which requires colleges to denote at the time of registration the classes requiring course materials costing less than $50. Soon students will be able to weigh all the options before selecting which specific course they enroll into. Students will now be able to save money by choosing a class that requires a low cost material compared to a similar class that may require a $150 book. Any opportunity for a student to lower the financial burden is one that should be celebrated.
One of the most important bills for student safety, HB 2327, will also see its day on the governor’s desk. This bill tightened the requirements for intuitions when they are handling cases of sexual misconduct. No longer will a person who shouldn’t be around students be allowed to sweep their misconduct under the rug by moving to a different institution. Because of this bill, anyone applying for a job at a college or university must go through a stricter background check. In addition, any confirmed sexual misconduct will follow them if they decide to apply of a job at a different college in Washington. This is a huge win for student safety and for creating a safer campus environment.
The last bill I will talk about is one that didn’t really get much attention this session. HB 2308, which passed the Legislature March 5, requires employers to periodically report the job titles of all of their employees. This seems like an insignificant bill, but this is actually incredibly important. This will allow legislators, colleges, students, and businesses to know what the job field looks like at the moment. If we can see how the job market is changing, then future training can be tailored to aim students towards the careers with increasing prospects. In an ever-changing world and a time when we have challenges predicting the future job market, anything to provide some insight to the trends will help students!
The session is over, so what’s next for the legislators? House and Senate committees have met to schedule meetings during the interim, where they will learn more about the topics they believe are emerging problems and about which they are passionate. Also, the entire House of Representatives and half of the Senate are up for reelection this November, so many of legislators will be running campaigns very soon, although a few have announced their retirement. The interim is spent focusing on things that they believe are important and will most likely show up in the 2021 legislative session. Only nine months until the gavel drops again!
When I began this internship, I didn’t truly understand the importance of the State Board for Community and Technical College, but this experience has truly opened my eyes to the grand importance this agency has. SBCTC provides support for colleges on so many levels from trainings to advocacy and so much in between.
Being able to testify on bills, watch legislation, and interact with stakeholders, I have solidified that the political world is where I want to find myself one day. This internship has been an experience unlike any before. My favorite part was being able to represent the 360,000 students within the community and technical college system and speaking to legislators on their behalf. This is an experience that has allowed to grow in so many ways, and it’s an experience I would recommend to every community and technical college student. I am thankful for the experience.