Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Another bill deadline approaches, committees discuss interim plans

Today is the 93rd day of session and the Legislature is busy! It’s a mad dash for legislators to pass bills in both chambers before tonight’s 5 p.m. deadline. Budget negotiations continue as the House and Senate come to a consensus on how to close the large budget shortfall.

Some legislative committees have already shifted focus to post-session—or “interim”—holding work sessions and creating plans for the rest of the year. Community and technical colleges continue to be in the forefront of legislative action.

Post-session planning begins

The House Higher Education Committee held a work session Tuesday about issues for members to focus on before the next legislative session begins in January.

Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, asked higher education institutions and stakeholders to provide ideas to help shape proposed legislation in the future.

Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, testified that organizing interim work around the Washington Student Achievement Council’s Ten-Year Roadmap would benefit the community and technical colleges by elevating important issues such as the State Need Grant and online learning. WSAC’s Roadmap focuses on five key areas in the higher education system:

·       Readiness

·       Affordability

·       Institutional capacity and student success

·       Capturing the potential of technology

·       Stable and accountable funding

Other higher education stakeholders testified about interim planning including Paul Francis, Council of Presidents interim executive director, and Bryan Wilson, Workforce Board executive director. The committee will continue planning for interim during another work session next week.

Link to work session on TVW.

Job Skills Program bill passes

Substitute House Bill 1247 was passed unanimously out of the Senate during last night’s floor debate. This bill is now on its way to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

SHB 1247 makes it easier for small businesses wanting to participate in the SBCTC-administered Job Skills Program, by eliminating the dollar-for-dollar match requirement. Small businesses are now only required to pay salary and benefits while employees benefit from customized training.

Link to Senate floor debate (begins at 19:40).

Floor cut-off tonight

The deadline for bills being considered in opposite chambers is 5 p.m. tonight. To advance further in the legislative process, bills have to be voted out of the House or Senate.

Preview of next edition

The Friday edition of Legislative News will provide a summary of bills still in play after tonight’s bill deadline and other relevant news for community and technical colleges.