Friday, March 15, 2013

Floor cutoff passes, bills still in play

With another significant cutoff date in the rearview mirror, the Legislature has further narrowed the number of bills left to be considered this session. After Wednesday’s 5 p.m. House of Origin deadline, many bills impacting CTCs are still left standing.

STEM pathways

2SSB 5624 creates a high school-to-community and technical college STEM pathway by requiring the further development of STEM-specific applied baccalaureate programs, subject to available funding. Prime sponsor Senator Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell,  spoke in favor of the bill and the value of CTCs in expanding high-demand STEM degree programs.

“This really creates a pathway from K-12 into our community and technical colleges in the high-demand fields of STEM. It also is an opportunity for our students to go into the STEM fields at the tuition rate of a community and technical college and to…become skilled in the high-demand jobs that are out there today. There are community and technical colleges who have definitely contributed to this STEM career and that is Bellevue College, Centralia College, Columbia Basin, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Olympic College, Peninsula, Seattle Central Community [College] and South Seattle Community College,” McAuliffe said.

Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, Senate Higher Education chair, also spoke in favor of the bill. “For quite some time, we’ve been trying to do everything that we can to stimulate the STEM programs in our community colleges and our baccalaureate degrees. We also in this bill begin to look more closely at what’s going on in our high schools and hopefully be able to make sure that there is the connection that is needed between our high schools, K-12 and CTCs as well as our 4-year universities in the STEM program[s],” Bailey said.

2SSB 5624 passed the Senate 48-1.

Link to Senate floor action (begins at 24:00).

State Need Grant eligibility

A number of bills related to the State Need Grant program have been introduced this session. Those passing cutoff include ESHB 1817, providing eligibility for undocumented immigrant students and SSB 5195 that expands eligibility for students at certain nonprofit institutions.

ESHB 1817 passed the House 77-20 (1 excused) and SB 5195 passed the Senate 47-2.

Assistance for students with military background

Students with a military background have support from both the House and Senate this session. SB 5318 removes the one-year waiting period for veterans or active military members to be eligible for resident tuition. SHB 1858 requires that higher education institutions adopt a policy awarding academic credit for prior military service. HB 1109 requires colleges to have a process by the 2013-14 academic year to offer early registration for eligible students who are veterans or National Guard members.

SB 5318 passed the Senate 48-0 (1 excused), referred to House Higher Education. SHB 1858 passed the House 97-0 (1 excused). HB 1109 passed the House 98-0.

Other bills that passed floor cutoff:

·       HB 1043 – eliminating differential tuition. Passed the House 95-1 (2 excused), referred to Senate Higher Education.

·       ESHB 1247 – eliminating the dollar for dollar match for small businesses participating in the Job Skills Program. Passed the House 98-0, referred to Senate Higher Education.

·       HB 1348 – requires increments for faculty as negotiated in local agreements. Passed the House 61-36 (1 excused), referred to Senate Commerce and Labor.

·       SHB 1472 – expands access to computer science education. Passed the House 95-3, referred to Early Learning and K-12 Education.

·       SHB 1536 – requires one business and labor representative on boards of trustees. Passed the House 58-40, referred to Senate Higher Education.

·       SHB 1686 – replaces “general equivalency diploma” with “high school equivalency” to provide flexibility in test options. Passed the House 98-0, scheduled for a hearing in Senate Higher Education March 21.

·       HB 1736 – providing operating efficiencies. Passed the House 98-0, scheduled for a hearing in Senate Higher Education March 19.

·       ESHB 1769 – providing capital efficiencies. Passed the House 97-1, referred to Senate Ways and Means.

·       SHB 1843 – monitoring and evaluating compliance of financial aid program rules. Passed the House 93-4 (1 excused), referred to Senate Higher Education.

·       ESHB 1872 – Governor-request STEM education. Passed the House 58-40, scheduled for a hearing in Senate Early Learning and K-12 March 20. Companion SSB 5755 passed the Senate 48-0 (1 excused), scheduled for a hearing in House Education March 22.

·        HCR 4403 – resolution adopting the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board’s strategic plan for state workforce development. Passed the House 91-6 (1 excused), referred to Senate Higher Education.

·        SSB 5180 – creates a taskforce to improve higher education access for students with disabilities. Passed the Senate 49-0, received a public hearing in House Higher Education March 12.

·        SB 5712 – encourages colleges to use multiple student assessment tools. Passed the Senate 49-0, scheduled for a hearing in House Higher Education March 19.

·       SSB 5774 – allows a permit for alcohol tasting for adults under age 21. Passed the Senate 42-7, scheduled for a hearing in House Government Accountability and Oversight March 21.

Governor provides CTC grant funding

Earlier this week, Governor Inslee announced $18 million in grant funding for projects at 12 higher education institutions and 37 local governments, creating more than 500 construction jobs.

Energy Efficiency Program Grants were awarded through a competitive process and are used for cost saving energy improvements. Last year, the Legislature appropriated $20 million to higher education with two rounds of awards.

Among the first recipients announced in August 2012 was the Community Colleges of Spokane that installed a control system in two buildings to maximize energy efficiency. The new control system is expected to save approximately $12,000 annually. “The new controls make the buildings more comfortable for everyone. The energy savings are reinvested right back into other energy efficiency projects. We are marching through the campus buildings one at a time and making them more energy efficient. This grant gave us a good start,” said Dennis Dunham, director of facilities. 

Round two grant recipients include the following community and technical colleges:

·       Big Bend Community College ($472,032)

·       Community Colleges of Spokane ($80,000)

·       Green River Community College ($453,000)

·       Highline Community College ($196,877)

·       Olympic College ($1,025,000)

·       Pierce College ($825,000)

·       Shoreline Community College ($349,643)

·       Yakima Valley Community College ($503,000)  

Gov. Inslee supports the Energy Efficiency Grant Program and sees it as an important step in strengthening the state’s economy. “This is precisely the sort of program we need as we work to rebuild our economy,” Inslee said. “These grants will reduce energy costs, provide training opportunities to students and create jobs in the clean energy sector.”

The Washington State Department of Commerce has additional details on statewide energy efficiency.

Poll results promising for CTCs

A recent College Promise Coalition poll shows Washington State citizens overwhelming approve of the state’s higher education performance. Out of the 600 voters polled in February of this year, results include:

·       People feel personally tied to Washington’s higher education system.

·       Voters know there is a problem in higher education funding, and recognize the connection between higher education and economic development.

·       Financial aid is important, including the College Bound and Guaranteed Education Tuition Programs.

·       Additional funding is needed for state colleges and universities.


Founded in 2011, the College Promise Coalition is a partnership between Washington’s colleges and universities with other stakeholders to ensure access to affordable, quality education for students across the state.

The College Promise Coalition has more information.

Legislator hosts higher education chat

Rep. Larry Seaquist (D-Gig Harbor), chair of House Higher Education is hosting a legislative web discussion on Monday, March 18 from noon to Seaquist will discuss higher education issues and answer questions from students, faculty, administrators, and others interested in participating.

Hosted on the House Democratic Caucus website, participants can submit their email address to receive an event reminder.

Preview of next edition

Next week’s edition of Legislative News will include a summary of committee action and details of the March 20 State Revenue Forecast, an important milestone for legislators writing this year’s state budget. Stay tuned!