House, Senate on the floor as session passes second cutoff deadline
The House and Senate this week began their concentrated work of debating and voting on bills following Monday's fiscal committee cutoff deadline. The House on Wednesday passed ESHB 1176, the bill that would prohibit school districts from withholding a student's unpaid fee or fine, on a 77 to 20 vote.
Senate Ways and Means hears fiscal impact of equity and access bill
Feb. 19 — Members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee at its nearly seven hour hearing Friday heard testimony on SSB 5194, a bill that addresses diversity, equity and inclusion, Guided Pathways, and mental health counseling at community and technical colleges. The committee at its hearing Monday voted to pass the bill to the full Senate for consideration.
Testifying on behalf of the community and technical college system were Dr. Ivan Harrell, president of Tacoma Community College, Gary Locke, interim president of Bellevue College, and Dr. Tim Stokes, president of South Puget Sound Community College. They all expressed their support for the bill’s vision, but expressed some concern about specific provisions.
“We want to thank Sen. Liias for the collaboration behind the latest version of this bill and thank him for making changes that we believe will move forward the goals of the bill in a way that does not inadvertently harm our students and our institutions,” Harrell said. Liias is the bill’s prime sponsor.
Harrell asked the committee to consider an amendment to lessen the fiscal impacts of the bill’s call for implementing diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plans at each of the colleges. The additional staff required for carrying out that section of the bill would be costly, he said.
Testifying on the bill’s section on Guided Pathways, Locke asked the committee to amend the bill to provide consistency in the Legislature’s intent. That section calls for the Washington Institute of Public Policy to evaluate Guided Pathways programs.
“Our only concern, however, is that the elements to be examined under Section 4 calls for evaluation of programs that go beyond the mandate of Guided Pathways that we have been charged by the Legislature to focus on,” he said.
Speaking last, Stokes asked the committee to align the bill’s sections on mental health with SHB 1468, a bill that would establish a pilot program to increase student access to mental health counseling and services. The house bill, Stokes said, aligns with the work of the Community and Technical College Counselors Task Force, which completed its work November 2020.
Bill status roundup
The bills listed below have been featured in this year's Legislative News and made it past Monday's fiscal committee cutoff deadline . This bill status is as of noon Friday.
|Bill number||Bill title||Bill status|
|HB 1016||Making Juneteenth a legal holiday.||Feb. 25: Passed House 89/9|
|HB 1033||Concerning the Washington customized employment training program.||Feb. 22: Referred to Rules 2 Review.|
|HB 1044||Creating prison to postsecondary education pathways.||Feb. 25: Passed House 96/2|
|HB 1166||Expanding access to the homeless and foster care college students pilot program.||Feb. 17: Placed on second reading by Rules Committee.|
|HB 1176||Concerning access to higher education.||Feb. 24: Passed House 77/20/1|
|SB 5194||Providing for equity and access in the community and technical colleges.||
Feb. 25: Placed on second reading by Rules Committee.
|SB 5227||Requiring diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism training and assessments at institutions of higher education.||Feb. 23: Placed on second reading by Rules Committee.|
|SB 5288||Increasing access to the Washington opportunity scholarship program.||Feb. 5: Passed to Rules Committee for second reading.|
|SB 5401||Authorizing community and technical colleges to offer bachelor degrees in computer science.||Feb. 25: Placed on second reading by Rules Committee.|
Coming up next week
Floor action continues next week with 11 days remaining for representatives and senators to vote bills out of their chamber before the session's third cutoff date. Bills need to be voted out of their house of origin by the end of the day March 9 in order to continue in the legislative process.