Hearings resume as session passes major cutoff deadline
The House and Senate passed a critical deadline Wednesday as bills — unless necessary for the budget — had to be voted out of their originating chamber to continue in the legislative process. Moving this week were bills on student basic needs, dual credit, data sharing, nursing and corrections education.
Policy committees picked up their work Thursday hearing bills coming to them from the opposite chamber. The Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee this morning heard a bill on enhancing the College Bound Scholarship, and the House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee took up a bill on extending eligibility of the Washington College Grant. Look for coverage of those hearings in next week's Legislative News.
Student basic needs bill passes House
March 3 — The House on Friday passed a bill 57-40 that would create a Student Basic Needs Task Force at the State Board responsible for developing a Hunger-Free and Basic Need Strategic Plan for community and technical colleges. Also under 2SHB 1559, the State Board would need to design and implement a Benefits Navigator Grant Program to provide funding for navigators at selected community and technical colleges. The State Board would also select four colleges to participate in a pilot program that would provide free and low-cost meal plans or food vouchers to eligible low-income students. The public four-year college and universities and the tribal college would have similar requirements to the community and technical college system.
“In the work that I have the opportunity to do as the vice chair of [the] Postsecondary Education and Workforce [Committee], we have learned from many students that they, while working very hard on our college campuses including our two-year college campuses, sometimes are experiencing food insecurity,” Rep. Debra Entenman, the bill’s prime sponsor, said. “We have encouraged our students through many of our scholarship programs to make an effort to continue their education, and this is just one more way for us to support them.”
The bill was referred to the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee.
Data sharing agreement bill passes Senate
March 3 — The Senate on Friday passed a bill that would allow Washington state’s public colleges and universities and The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create data-sharing agreements for purpose of informing students of post-high school options. Under 2SSB 5593, the State Board would enter into an agreement with OSPI on behalf of the community and technical college system. OSPI would transfer high school student directory information to the State Board, which would then distribute it to community and technical colleges, and the state’s college and universities.
“Our employers and families need more of our graduating high school seniors to go to college. Our colleges don't know who all those graduates are. This bill connects the two together,” Sen. Marko Liias, the bill’s prime sponsor, said.
The bill now heads to the House Education Committee for its consideration.
House approves Running Start expansion bill
March 4 — A bill expanding access to Running Start passed the House Friday with a 60-36 vote. 2SHB 1316 explicitly states that every school district, charter school and state-tribal education compact school must allow eligible students to participate in Running Start. It would also fund students up to a combined maximum enrollment of 1.6 FTE instead of the current 1.2 FTE annually and allow participation during summer quarter.
“We've had Running Start since 1990, but we've never had the ability for students to take those classes in the summer. And that's a real problem because that's a time when students can have extra time on their hands, have the opportunity to get ahead on their studies, or maybe, if they've had a hiccup in high school, they can catch up with some credit recovery. Our Legislature has done some great work in the past to allow this on a pilot basis, but we should make this permanent,” Rep. Dave Paul, the bill’s prime sponsor, said. “Let's open that up statewide and provide a funding mechanism for that.”
The bill was referred to the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee.
Senate approves bills with corrections education impact
The Senate on Friday approved SSB 5025, the bill that would require the Department of Corrections to replace its Offender Management Network Information (OMNI) system. The computer system, custom developed for the state starting in 1998 and implemented 2003 to 2008, covers 17 areas including sentence calculation, caseload management, health care, release and discharge, and community supervision. The system also supports corrections education programs. The bill passed 48-0.
“This is something that we need to keep moving forward to bring our DOC system up to the standards that we expect here in Washington state.” Sen. Perry Dozier, the bill’s prime sponsor, said.
The bill was referred to the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee for further consideration.
On Monday, the Senate voted to pass the bill that would require the Department of Corrections to develop, within one year of release, discharge plans and provide reentry services for incarcerated individuals. 2SSB 5134 would also increase the amount of money individuals receive upon release to no less than $40, the amount currently in place. The bill passed 37-12.
“Access to basic human needs is necessary for individuals that are leaving our care,” Sen. Claire Wilson, the bill’s prime sponsor, said. “All individuals that are exiting our systems of incarceration need to have planning to make sure that they've got connections for the resources and supports they need in our community.”
Under the bill, the reentry plan would include the individual’s education achievements, certifications, skills, and training received prior to and during incarceration, as well as address the person’s education needs upon release.
Nursing education bill passes Senate
March 6 —A bill that would require the State Board to develop a plan to increase nursing credential opportunities passed the Senate Monday with a 48-0 vote. E2SSB 5582 would also require the development of an online Licensed Practical Nurse program at two community or technical colleges and modify program approval and training requirements under the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission.
“What the intent of this bill is, within a three-to-five-year period, is to find the quickest, most efficient way to produce RNs and LPNs in the state so that we can backfill the positions that are available and accommodate the need,” Sen. Jeff Holy, the bill’s prime sponsor said.
College in the High School cost elimination bill passes Senate
March 8 — Students participating in College in the High School would be able to enroll and register for those classes at no cost under a bill passed Wednesday by the Senate. If 2SSB 5048 is funded, colleges and universities offering College in the High School must provide those courses at no cost to high school 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders. Community and technical colleges would be reimbursed $3,500 per course. The bill received a 48-0 vote.
Sen. Mark Mullet, the bill’s prime sponsor, cited three advantages to his bill: credit transferability, cost structure that pays the college or university for providing the course instead of students paying a fee to receive credit, and cost savings to the state.
“It's more likely these kids will actually pursue post-secondary education, and it's actually going to end up, in the long run, saving the state money,” he said.
Coming up next week
House and Senate committees will continue their work next week hearing bills from the opposite chamber. Scheduled for hearings are bills on establishing a data sharing agreement, dual credit and expanding the students experiencing homelessness program.