2 Legislative cutoffs down, 4 to go
As the third cutoff for the session is fast approaching Wednesday, it also reminds me also that we are halfway through the session and my internship with the State Board. The short session, though, hasn’t stopped the enthusiasm for change in our state. If anything, it’s put perspective about how little time the Legislature has to address issues around the state. Over the past week, I’ve been hearing that this year has been a record breaking year for most bills introduced, around 1600. And for a short session that is even more remarkable.
Two weeks ago, the Washington Community and Technical College Student Association (WACTCSA) had its annual Advocacy Day at the State Capitol. Advocacy days prove to have a tremendous effect. When legislators hear the backstory of what a bill can do to change their lives and of others, it affects their priorities. Keeping in mind students are the next generation, we are the future of the state.
The messages of CTC students clearly had an effect on the legislators. I’m happy to report that two bills that pertain to WACTCSA’s Legislative Agenda: Higher education for undocumented students (HB 1488, SB 5074) Ban the Box have (HB 1298, SB 6110) passed the second cutoff
Currently, HB 1488 is on House Second Reading and SB 5074 has been referred to House Higher Education. Both bills expand financial aid access opportunities for undocumented students but are not identical was to do that. HB 1298 has passed its chamber and has been referred to Senate Labor and Commerce. SB 6110 is on Rules second reading and has until Wednesday to pass its chamber to meet cutoff. With the wonderful work CTC students have been doing all over the state, increase in college accessibility and a fair chance for employment for all in Washington looks like is on the horizon.
Another push for higher education came on Monday from the Student Engagement Network (SEN). SEN is a unified network comprised of students from independent colleges, public institutions, and CTC’s from all over Washington who come together to share their stories with legislators. SEN is currently highlighting the State Need Grant (SNG) and how vital that financial aid is to students. Currently there are 21,000 students that were eligible in the last year for the SNG and did not receive funding because it’s not fully funded. Networks comprised of students like SEN and WACTCSA are vital to educating our elected officials what matters to students and has proven to show progress for student issues like HB 1375 about textbook transparency that passed last year.