A new chapter means reflection
Beginning the second half of the legislative session has the same feel as starting a new year. I am not one for resolutions, but at the start of each new year, I like to reflect on what went well and what I want to improve. As I begin this journey into the second half of the session, I wanted to use this week’s post to look back at the lessons I learned, the skills I developed, the bills I followed, and what I am looking forward to in the second chapter of this session.
During the first half of the session, I focused on building a foundation for the work the other interns and I are doing. Working side-by-side with like-minded individuals to accomplish the goals we have set forth is exhilarating. During the second half of the session, I am still invested in tracking bills that focus on mental health, financial aid, and equity, diversity, and inclusion. After the Northwest Regional Equity Conference last week, my passions are burning brighter than ever.
The first bill that I provided testimony on was House Bill 1094 back on Jan. 18. That bill would have established the Washington Future Fund Program. It was interesting to hear the stories and testimonies given by everyone else, as well as having the chance to share a bit of my own story and reasoning behind why I was in favor of its passage. I learned how to address committee members and deliver my testimony with confidence (although my sweaty palms said otherwise). Beside the on-the-spot experience of speaking before a committee, I learned the intricacies of building coalitions and how to read a bill.
Some of the bills that I am going to be following these next few weeks, if they continue past cutoff, are HB 1316, which expands access to dual credit programs; HB 1338, which focuses on educational and vocational programs in state correctional institutions; SB 5189, which establishes behavioral health specialists; SB 5702, which expands the students experiencing homelessness and foster youth pilot program; and SB 5655, which creates the Washington Achievers Grant program. Another bill that I am interested in in HB 1176, focusing on developing opportunities for service and workforce opportunities to support climate-ready communities. As an environmental science student, that is a bill that I am very interested in seeing pass.
My personal goals for these next few weeks are to continue building my professional skills and to network more. I have a very introverted personality, so I would like to get out of my comfort zone and schedule more one-on-one meetings, get to know more of my colleagues and learn their stories. I am so grateful to be where I am, and I am eager to continue finding my voice and using it to advocate for those who are unable to use their own.