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Last cutoff passes, session heads into final full week

April 14, 2023 by SBCTC Communications

With just over a week to go in the 2023 legislative session, the House and Senate on Wednesday reached their last major cutoff deadline, when bills coming from the opposite chamber needed to receive a vote. Community and technical college system-supported bills on dual credit, College Bound Scholarship expansion, student basic needs and data transfer were all approved. 

Nursing education bill passes House

April 7 — The House on April 7 voted to pass the nursing education bill with a 97-0 vote. Under E2SSB 5582, the State Board would be required to develop a plan to increase nursing credential opportunities and two community or technical colleges would be required to develop an online Licensed Practical Nurse program. The Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission would need to modify program approval and training requirements.

“We need nurses — it’s evident — and this particular bill has many items in it that will improve the amount of nurses we have in our state,” Rep. Alex Ybarra said.

Rep. Vandana Slatter agreed with Ybarra.

“This is a potpourri of amazing ways that we can expand educational opportunities not only from the K-12, but also online opportunities, simulation testing, remote testing for nursing, giving pathways and community technical colleges, and narrowing gaps in credential attainment while still getting the best available care in rural communities,” she said.

The bill heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his decision.

House passes bill on prison reentry plans

April 7 — The House on Friday passed a bill 97-0 that would require the Department of Corrections to develop an individual discharge plan and provide reentry services within one year prior to an incarcerated individual’s discharge or release. 2SSB 5134 specifies that the discharge plan would include a portfolio of the individual’s educational achievements, work experience, skills and training received prior to and during incarceration.

“We believe that reentry really should start when a person comes into custody, but at a minimum, those reentry plans should start being in the works a year prior [to release], and this provides funding to have a reentry coordinator at each of the state’s prisons,” Rep. Lauren Davis said.

The Senate on Thursday refused to concur with House amendments — which included direction on medications, money received upon release, and a null and void clause — asking the House to withdraw its changes.

College Bound Scholarship expansion bill passes Senate

April 11 — The Senate on Tuesday passed the bill with a 39-10 vote that would expand eligibility to the College Bound Scholarship. Under HB 1232, College Bound-eligible students with below a 2.0 GPA could use the scholarship at a community or technical college. Under current law, students must have at least a 2.0 GPA and no felony convictions to use the scholarship at any public or private college or university. The College Bound Scholarship, begun in 2007, provides guaranteed four-year tuition to students from low-income families.

Sen. Jeff Holy called the bill timely and siad it owuld encourage more people to go to college and support the state’s workforce.

“Projections over the next 10 years — we're going to have 60% to 70% of the new jobs created are going to require some sort of postsecondary skill certification — a voc-tech certificate, apprenticeship preparation, or maybe an AS or an AA degree out there at a minimum — to be able to engage in most of the workforce areas that we see coming in front of us,” he said.

The bill heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his decision.

Senate approves Running Start expansion bill

April 12 — The Senate on Wednesday approved the bill 47-2 that would expand access to Running Start by mandating every school district, charter school and state-tribal education compact school to allow eligible students to participate in Running Start. 2SHB 1316 passed the version amended by the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Committee which would fund students up to a combined maximum enrollment of 1.4 FTE instead of the current 1.2 FTE annually and allow participation during summer quarter. Before the amendment, the bill would have provided a combined maximum of 1.6 FTE.

“Our ultimate goal is we'll take a high school kid who doesn't realize they could be successful in a college course, they take us summer Running Start class realize, 'oh, I can actually be successful in a college course,' and hopefully this incentivizes them to consider pursuing postsecondary education,” Sen. Mark Mullet said.

The bill goes back to the House for it to consider the Senate’s amendments.

Decarbonization plan bill passes Senate

April 12 — The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of state-owned buildings. On a 44-5 vote, 2SHB 1390 would require owners of state campus district energy systems to develop a decarbonization plan. District energy systems are those that provide heating or cooling to three or more buildings with a total footprint of greater than 100,000 square feet.

The bill was introduced in response to the Clean Buildings Act, passed in 2019, which required the Department of Commerce to establish a State Energy Performance Standard to maximize greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.

“It's oftentimes very difficult to migrate the whole thing over all at one time, so for those that have a decarbonization plan and a strategy, we're going have a path for them to be able to decarbonize,” Sen. Joe Nguyen said.

The bill goes back to the House for it to consider the Senate's amendments.

Senate approves student basic needs support bill

April 12 — The Senate on Wednesday passed a bill supporting student basic needs. Following an amendment by the Senate Ways and Means Committee, 2SHB 1559 would establish benefits navigators at each college and university campus and create a free and reduced priced meals pilot program. The bill received a 29-20 vote.

“When we don't have the resources for these students, we're missing out on their incredible talents. They're missing out on the opportunity of an education. They're not able to get as much out of it as they can, and we're not able to get all the talents, dreams and the amazing things that they would've created had they had that space to complete their higher ed education, or even get the straight A's that I know they could have gotten,” Sen. Sharon Shewmake said. Shewmake also teaches at Western Washington University. "I think the benefits are bigger than completion, though. I think it's going to mean higher grades. It's going to mean more learning, more opportunities and more innovation.”

The bill goes back to the House for it to consider the Senate’s amendments.

Student data transfer bill passes House

April 12 — Following extensive debate on Wednesday, the House voted 89-8 to approve the student data transfer bill. 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.

“And one of the things that we learned in exploring this is that the only way to obtain [student contact] information is to purchase this information from the College Board, which is really only a very small segment of the 1.1 million students in our state,” Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos said. “The bill before you evens that playing field to all 1.1 million students, or at least those who are ready to depart the K-12 system. By sharing data that is very limited in scope — to name, address, email and telephone number — so that our public institutions may also issue these letters just saying ‘come take a look at our campus. We think that you might find a good fit here.’”

The bill goes back to the Senate for it to consider the House’s amendments.

College in the High School fee elimination bill passes House

April 12 — The House on Wednesday voted 97-0 to pass the bill that would eliminate College in the High School fees for high school 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders, if it receives funding. Under 2SSB 5048, community and technical colleges would be reimbursed to $300 per student, up to $3,500 per course.

“The problem we've got is that [College in the High School courses] can cost up to $300 for students to participate in the program. That squeezes out a lot of low-income families — they are not able to afford that $300 — so the students sitting next to you might be able to take the class for college credit, but the student on the other side of you doesn’t,” Rep. Dave Paul said. “This is a terrific bill because this is going to allow all those students in those articulated classes to earn college credit, which will help reduce college debt and help with college affordability.”

The bill was sent back to the Senate to consider amendments made by the House.

Trustees confirmed by Senate

The Senate in the past week confirmed three trustees to the boards of their colleges — last week, Louise Chernin, a trustee at the Seattle College District, and Debra Entenman, a trustee at Renton Technical College, and this week John Pedlow, a trustee at Whatcom Community College.

“Louise has been a role model for so many people who are interested in pursuing jobs in business, particularly LGBT folks who hadn't seen themselves in these positions of power before,” Sen. Emily Randall said on April 6. “She is committed to educational pathways of all kinds for students in Washington.”

Randall on April 7 spoke about Entenman, who also serves the 47th legislative district, which includes Covington, parts of Auburn, Kent and Maple Valley, in the Washington state House of Representatives.

“I learned some years ago that Rep. Entenman went back to follow her educational journey later in life. As someone who has maybe a nonlinear non-traditional education background, she's particularly passionate and motivated to ensure that all students in Washington have the support that they need to be successful to follow their career journey or their education journey whatever time they step on or off the path,” Randall said.

On Monday, Randall thanked Pedlow for his service, saying “Folks who want to serve our higher education systems — folks who want to serve really in any capacity — who are volunteering themselves for service, like John has, should get the full support of this body to continue to do that service to make sure education system works for everyone.”

Coming up next week

In the nine days remaining in the 105-day session, representatives and senators will vote to concur with bills amended by the opposite chamber, negotiate differences on bills and wait for the final budget proposals to be released.

Last Modified: 4/14/23, 3:12 PM
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