Legislature concurring on amended bills while awaiting negotiated budgets
The Legislature spent this week hearing and voting on bills that received amendments after passing their originating chamber, including the community and technical college system-supported bills on corrections education and prohibiting school districts from withholding official grades and transcripts due to an unpaid fee or fine. Budget negotiators are still at work on operating, capital and transportation budget proposals hoping to reach an agreement before Sine Die on April 25.
Bill creating Juneteenth state holiday approved by Senate
The Senate on April 9 voted to make Juneteenth — June 19, the day when word slavery had ended in the United States reached Galveston, Tex., the last place in the country to hear news the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed two years earlier — a legal state holiday. SHB 1016 passed the Senate 47 to 1.
"Juneteenth — also known as Emancipation, Freedom, Jubilee, Liberation Day — a holiday that many of us celebrate here in this city, in this state. Being known by this many names tells me that this day is so monumental it changed the course of our country that one name doesn't give it justice," said Sen. T'wina Nobles. "This recognition is about a true acknowledgment that chattel slavery happened in this country. Without that, how can we advocate for true racial equity?"
The bill heads to Gov. Inslee for signature.
Corrections education bill passes Senate
The Senate on April 9 voted on April 9 to approve 2SHB 1044, the bill that would expand educational opportunities in the state’s prisons by allowing colleges and universities to offer associate and bachelor’s academic degree options in addition to the currently allowed workforce certificates and degrees. The vote was 28 to 20.
"This bill will allow more flexibility, as well as providing a pathway not only for people who are incarcerated to improve their job prospects to go forth as they reenter society and be able to reduce any kind of recidivism, and ultimately it will save taxpayer dollars as we provide more public safety," Sen. Jeannie Darneille said.
The House on Wednesday concurred with the Senate's amendments with a 59 to 37 vote. The bill now heads to Gov. Inslee.
House approves equity and access bill
- Develop diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plans
- Fully implement Guided Pathways with evaluation to be completed by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy
- Establish a goal for adding 200 full-time faculty positions in the 2021-23 biennium
- Create a pilot program to provide grants to colleges to increase student access to mental health counseling and services
- Establish minimum hiring standards for college faculty counselors
"Student support programs that are going to be incorporated here have been proven at other community college systems across the nation to literally double — double — the degree and workforce certification completion rates of low-income and minority students by providing them with peer-to-peer mentoring, with advisors, with faculty diversity, and by making sure that we have a firm commitment to having a faculty that looks more like the student body of our state," Rep. Gerry Pollet said.
Diversity, equity, inclusion, antiracism training bill approved by House
Last on the House's April 9 agenda was E2SSB 5227, the bill requiring diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism training at colleges and universities. It passed with a 67 to 31 vote, and now heads back to the Senate for it to approve House amendments.
"We expect, and I expect, that our colleges and universities are places were students are safe and valued, where our sons and daughters feel that way, a place of joyful learning where our students can thrive; can flourish," Rep. Vandana Slatter said. "None of us are immune to the virus of bias and discrimination. This takes work — hard work — it takes self-reflection, vigilance, and commitment. Our state's economy depends on the brainpower produced by these college graduates, so this bill is necessary for faculty and staff and for all of our college students like my son and yours."
Senate approves Customized Training Program tax extension
The Senate on Sunday passed 2SHB 1033, the bill that would extend the Customized Training Program’s business and occupation tax credit for participating businesses by five years from July 1, 2021 to July 1, 2026. The vote was 47 to 1 and now heads to Gov. Inslee.
"It allows businesses to seek specific training programs for their employees to pay in a percentage to help fund the program and then to receive tax credit for that contribution," Sen. Emily Randall said. "This bill extends that program so that more businesses in Washington can benefit from this great partnership with our community and technical colleges and that more employees can receive the education that they need to do their jobs better."
Bill status roundup
The bills listed below have been featured in this year's Legislative News and made it past Sunday's Opposite House Floor Cutoff deadline. This bill status is as of noon Friday.
|Bill number||Bill title||Bill status|
|SHB 1016||Making Juneteenth a legal holiday.||
April 9: Passed Senate 47-1
|2SHB 1033||Concerning the Washington customized employment training program.||
April 11: Passed Senate 47-1
|2SHB 1044||Creating prison to postsecondary education pathways.||
April 9: Passed Senate 28-20
April 14: House concurred with Senate amendments 59-37
|SHB 1166||Expanding access to the homeless and foster care college students pilot program.||
April 7: Passed Senate 41-8
|ESHB 1176||Concerning access to higher education.||
April 6: Passed Senate 25-23
April 15: House concurred with Senate amendments 58-40
|SHB 1302||Concerning college in the high school programs.||
April 7: Passed Senate 49-0
|E2SSB 5194||Providing for equity and access in the community and technical colleges.||
April 9: Passed House 60-38
|E2SSB 5227||Requiring diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism training and assessments at institutions of higher education.||
April 9: Passed House 67-31
|SSB 5401||Authorizing community and technical colleges to offer bachelor degrees in computer science.||
April 7: Passed House 96-2
|SB 5431||Creating the Rosa Franklin legislative internship program scholarship.||
April 5: Passed House 95-3
Coming up next week
With just over a week to go in the 2021 regular session, the House and Senate will continue hearing bills amended by the opposite chamber. The Legislature is also waiting for budget negotiators to wrap up their work so it can pass budgets for the 2021-2023 biennium before the scheduled end of session on April 25.