Lessons from the legislative galleries
Tomorrow morning, I will have the honor of introducing my district representatives at an in-person town hall meeting on my college campus. While preparing for this opportunity, I cannot help but reflect on the last few weeks of the internship that got me here. The days after policy committee cutoff provided a little different pace than the previous weeks. As I watched as bills I monitored and testified on reached a final vote in their originating chamber or ended their days for this session, I relished the chance to continue building relationships on and off of the Hill.
While I was hopeful that all the legislation that could benefit the community and technical college system itself and the students it serves would pass, that was not and rarely is ever the case. I am grateful, however, that bills like Establishing The Student Basic Needs at Postsecondary Institutions Act (2SHB 1559), Extending The Terms of Eligibility for the Washington College Grant Program (SB 5711), and Expanding the Students Experiencing Homelessness and Foster Youth Pilot Program (2SSB 5702) are still alive, and that there is a chance they will signed into law.
As committee hearings resumed this week, I was excited to get back to work on the pieces of legislation that made it through their original chambers and for the opportunity to collaborate with my fellow legislative interns. On Friday, March 10, I joined Policy Associate Yokiko Hayashi-Saguil and Legislative Intern Shannon Cosgrove in the House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development Committee for virtual testimony on SB 5711, a bill which would increase the terms of eligibility on the Washington College Grant.
As this was one of the very first bills I testified on, I was looking forward to revisiting it in committee with a more informed testimony. As I had not utilized my public speaking skills for a bit, I felt a little rusty, but was quickly reminded of my passion for advocacy as the committee proceeded. I had yet to have the opportunity to testify alongside my intern colleagues, so being joined by Shannon was a definite highlight.
The House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Development Committee has become my favorite to appear in front of over the course of the session. I always leave the hearings feeling inspired by the testimony provided and the response of the legislators alike to continue my advocacy efforts. If anyone had told me six months ago that I would have a favorite legislative committee today, I would have doubted their grasp on reality.
I also had the opportunity to team up with Policy Associate Jennifer Dellinger and Legislative Intern Baydaa Alshatee to verbalize our support for 2SHB 5702, a bill that would assist students facing housing insecurity by providing permanence to the Students Experiencing Homelessness pilot program and implement a housing voucher program. Students’ ability to access basic needs resources is has been a driving force for the continuation of my education in preparation for entry into the legislative field, so I am excited to be able to work on legislation such as this.
As I spend more and more time at the Capitol and in Olympia, my excitement for my transition to The Evergreen State College grows. My time at the State Board has allowed me to not only engage with the legislative process but the people as well, which has been by far the best part. One of the most unexpected things about spending time on the Hill this session has been the moments of humanity and humor that make their way onto the chambers’ floors. From acknowledging colleagues for their first bills passed to cracking a quick joke during remarks on a bill, these little tidbits keep me excited for my future in the legislative world.