Sunday, March 9, 2014

CTC bills pass, interim plans discussed during final week of session

As the Legislature enters the final week of the regular 2104 session, members are busy negotiating a final budget, passing policy bills, and discussing interim plans. Legislators plan to adjourn on time, with the last day of session – March 13 – rapidly approaching.

State Board member honored by Senate

Jim Bricker, State Board member, was honored by the Senate on Monday, March 8. Senate Resolution 8698 commemorates the distinguished career of Bricker, who recently retired.

From budget analyst, committee services director, senior advisor to governors Rosellini, Evans, Spellman, and Gardner, to PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company government affairs director, Bricker has sustained a successful career in state government.

In addition to government work, Bricker also dedicated many years to community service and mentoring youth.

Many legislators rose in support of SR 8698, including Curtis King, R-Yakima, noting the example Bricker set during his time in Olympia.

King said, “Mr. Bricker has provided outstanding service to the state of Washington and its citizens and he continues to do so. Mr. Bricker, you will be missed here in Olympia. You have provided us a great example of what all of us should strive for – to be a person of honesty, integrity, having a willingness to serve and do so as a true gentleman.”

Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, honored Bricker by playing a recorded message that demonstrates his precision and detailed approach to legislative work.

Hatfield said, “We love you and are going to miss you.”

Link to Senate Floor (begins at 6:35).

Interim planning focus of House Higher Education work session

The House Higher Education Committee dedicated time Wednesday, March 5 to plan for the upcoming interim. The committee heard from members and higher-education representatives on possible focus areas for the coming months. Topics included:

·         Funding: increasing the percentage of the state operating budget headed to higher education while examining funding models like the Student Achievement Initiative.

·         Financial accessibility: looking at ways to reduce the financial burden on students by expanding options like the Open Course Library and financial aid. Committee members expressed interest in further studying Oregon’s “Pay it Forward” program, which allows students to attend college for free provided they agree to pay costs after graduation.

·         Metrics: collecting and analyzing data from colleges and universities to find areas for expansion and improvement.

·         Strengthening partnerships with K-12: encourage colleges and universities to continue to develop relationships with area high schools to reduce the need for pre-college education.

·         Meeting community demand: assist colleges in their continued efforts to be connected and responsive to their communities. Members saw this as a way to engage non-traditional college students and provide educational opportunities for place-bound students.

Alison Grazzini-Smith, SBCTC legislative director, highlighted the system’s major interim goals to improve student success:

·         Expand credit for prior learning opportunities.

·         Increase financial aid options.

·         Track outcomes from the Student Achievement Initiative.

·         Prepare colleges for the Common Core standards.

·         Continue collaboration with K-12, business, industry and labor to meet needs.

·         Strengthen ABE and I-BEST for adult learners.

·         Prioritize and write the system’s 2015-17 biennial budget request.

She also invited committee members to visit community and technical colleges to get a firsthand look at the innovations underway.

Link to work session (SBCTC presentation starts 1:04:27).

CTC bills delivered to the Governor

A handful of bills impacting CTCs have passed the Legislature and are on their way to the Governor’s desk for signature:

·         HB 2398: permitting community colleges that offer applied baccalaureate degrees to offer honorary bachelor of applied science degrees.

·         SHB 2613: creating efficiencies for institutions of higher education.

·         SSB 5969: awarding academic credit for prior military training.

Link to the Bill Watch List and additional bill information.

Session cutoff dates

Mandated cutoff dates determine which bills will continue through the legislative process. The final date of the 2104 regular legislative session is Thursday, March 13: Sine Die.

Session resources

SBCTC Government Relations provides updated legislative resources throughout session:

·         The Bill Watch Listimportant bills being considered that may have significant impact on the CTC system.

·         The Bill Status Report – all bills being tracked by SBCTC staff during session.

·         The Weekly Hearing Scheduleschedule of weekly hearings where CTCs are testifying and/or monitoring bills.

·         Legislator informationcontact information for legislators organized by college district, committee, caucus, etc.