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Financial aid, free college bills moving after first cutoff

February 02, 2024 by SBCTC Communications

The Legislature reached its first cutoff deadline of the 2024 session Wednesday, when bills needed to be voted out of their policy committees to continue in the legislative process. Community and technical college system-supported bills are moving, including ones on financial aid support, expanding financial aid opportunities, and tuition-free college.

Senate Ways and Means hears chronic absenteeism bill

Jan. 30 — The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday took up a bill that would provide support for students who are chronically absent from school and at risk of not graduating from high school. SB 5850, which passed the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee Jan. 17, would require Educational Service Districts to develop and maintain training and coaching for staff on early warning systems and connect students who are chronically absent with necessary support.

The bill would also allocate funding to ESDs, school districts and public schools to help eliminate barriers to high school completion for students enrolled in statewide dropout reengagement programs. The provisions of the bill are subject to appropriation in the state’s budget.

“These important investments will move the state closer to providing equity in education and opportunity for all K-12 students. This includes the Open Doors students enrolled at the community and technical colleges in partnership with local school districts throughout the state,” said Troy Goracke, a State Board basic education for adults policy associate.

Bill addressing opioid, fentanyl crisis heard in House Appropriations

Feb. 1 — The fiscal implications of a bill aimed at addressing the opioid and fentanyl crisis was the topic of Thursday’s House Appropriations Committee hearing. If passed, HB 2112 would require public and private colleges and universities to provide education and awareness to all students about the dangers of opioids and fentanyl. It would also require colleges and universities to make naloxone and fentanyl strips — medications that reverse opioid and fentanyl overdoses — available to students on campus and train residence hall staff on their use. The bill passed the House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee Jan. 24 with unanimous approval.

Calling colleges active partners in addressing the opioid and fentanyl epidemic, Lauren Hibbs, student services director at the State Board, spoke in favor of the bill and asked representatives to ensure it’s fully funded.

“Our primary focus is securing funding for the implementation, stocking and restocking of critical items such as Narcan testing strips and opioid reversal medication at each of our 34 community and technical colleges,” she said. “These funds will empower us to provide the vital resources contributing to safer and healthier environments for our students and communities.”

Bill status roundup

The bills listed below have been featured in this year's Legislative News. This bill status is as of noon Friday.

Bill number Bill title Bill status
HB 2089/SB 5949 Concerning the capital budget Jan. 11: Public hearing in House Capital Budget Committee.
HB 2104/SB 5950 Making 2023-2025 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations Jan. 10: Public hearing in House Appropriations Committee.
HB 2112 Concerning opioid and fentanyl prevention education and awareness at institutions of higher education

Feb. 1: Public hearing in House Appropriations Committee.

Feb. 3: Scheduled for executive action in House Appropriations Committee.

HB 2155 Creating the Washington credential registry

Jan. 19: Executive action taken in House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee.

Jan. 22: Referred to House Appropriations Committee.

HB 2171 Addressing financial aid grants for incarcerated students

Jan. 16: Executive action taken in House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee.

Jan. 19: Referred to House Appropriations Committee.

HB 2203 Creating a pilot project to assist incarcerated veterans

Jan. 23: Executive action taken in House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee.

Jan. 25: Referred to House Appropriations Committee.

HB 2214 Permitting beneficiaries of public assistance programs to automatically qualify as income-eligible for the purpose of receiving the Washington college grant

Feb. 1: Public hearing in House Appropriations Committee.

Feb. 3: Scheduled for executive action in House Appropriations Committee.

HB 2309 Establishing the Washington 13 free guarantee

Jan. 30: Executive action taken in House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee.

Jan. 31: Referred to House Appropriations Committee.

HB 2360 Creating the Washington digital empowerment and workforce inclusion act

Jan. 24: Executive action taken in House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee.

Jan. 29: Referred to House Appropriations Committee.

HB 2374 Establishing the Washington promise program Jan 30: Executive session scheduled in House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee, but no action taken.
SB 5850 Supporting students who are chronically absent and at risk for not graduating high school Jan. 30: Public hearing in Senate Ways and Means Committee.
SB 5904 Extending the terms of eligibility for financial aid programs Jan. 30: Public hearing in Senate Ways and Means Committee.
SB 5949/HB 2089 Concerning the capital budget Jan. 11: Public hearing in Senate Ways and Means Committee.
SB 5950/HB 2104 Making 2023-2025 fiscal biennium supplemental operating appropriations Jan. 9: Public hearing in Senate Ways and Means Committee.
SB 5953 Concerning financial aid grants for incarcerated students Feb. 2: Scheduled for public hearing in Senate Ways and Means Committee.
SB 6254 Providing student navigational supports to increase postsecondary enrollment Feb. 3: Scheduled for public hearing in Senate Ways and Means Committee.
SB 6264 Supporting the implementation of competency-based education Feb. 3: Scheduled for public hearing in Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Coming up next week

Work continues in the fiscal committees ahead of Monday's second cutoff deadline of the 2024 session. Bills with monetary impacts need to be voted out of those committees to continue in the legislative process. Representatives and senators will spend the rest of the week debating and voting on bills to pass to the other chamber for its consideration.

Last Modified: 2/2/24, 2:18 PM
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