Bills, Bills, Bills!
Today, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, is the 39th day of the 2021 Legislative Session, and this past week has produced a large quantity of new bills. As the sixth week of the 2021 Legislative Session wraps up, we — Da’Mea and I — are switching gears from connecting with students in the Council of Unions and Student Programs (CUSP) to focusing on bills and testimony. Da’Mea has been following HB 1517, a bill regarding the expansion of The Washington College Grant awards. She is prepared to share her personal experiences to testify in support of HB 1517. While HB 1517 is not currently scheduled for a hearing, we are following several other bills. I have been following SB 5321, a bill that would promote the expansion of access to the Washington College Bound Scholarship. In support of this bill, I have gone on record and listed my position as pro for SB 5321.
In addition to HB 1517 and SB 5321, we’ve been following SB 5194. This bill, titled “Providing for equity and access in the community and technical colleges,” has changed through amendments from the version first heard in the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee on Jan. 21. The Senate Ways and Means will hear a substitute version of the bill at its hearing tomorrow, Feb. 19.
Aside from involvement with bills and testimony, we produced a list of virtual town hall meetings that will be sent to college students and representatives throughout the state. With COVID restrictions for events in place, this year’s virtual town halls are being held on Facebook or YouTube. The town hall meetings predominantly include events hosted by the Washington State House Democrats. In cases where Democrats hold a legislative district’s House and Senate seats, the virtual town halls are generally a joint event.
We also connected with members of the Washington State House Republicans and the Washington State Senate Republicans in regards to their virtual town hall schedule. The House Republicans chose an alternative to hosting virtual town halls, instead providing several videos each day with updates on bills and current progress of the session. These video updates can be accessed on the House Republicans’ website, where videos and video transcripts are provided for the public to reference. While the House Republicans are providing daily video updates, the Senate Republicans are utilizing a mixture of video updates and informal virtual town hall meetings. The Senate Republicans do not have any virtual town hall meetings scheduled yet but have not ruled out hosting any.
We plan to spend next week following up on several bills and providing bill testimony if and when necessary. In addition, we are working closely with SBCTC staff to distribute the virtual town hall schedule to students and college representatives.