Monday, March 9, 2015

Session reaches halfway point – floor-vote cutoff nears

Thursday, March 5 marked the halfway point of this 105-day session and the next cutoff date is just around the corner. Bills must be voted out of their originating chamber by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11 to move forward in the legislative process. The only exemptions are budget bills and bills considered "necessary to implement the budget."  

Along with higher education bills, the House and Senate have taken votes on sweeping measures with a statewide impact. The Senate approved a broad transportation package, while the House approved legislation to increase the minimum wage and expand paid sick leave requirements to more businesses. 

House, Senate pass community and technical college-request bills

At the time this blog was posted, the following community and technical college-request bills were making their way through the Legislative process:

Fee waiver for active duty military
HB 1706, prime-sponsored by Rep. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell), passed the House on a unanimous vote Monday (97-0-1). The bill and its companion SB 5620 (passed the Senate 49-0), prime-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor), would grant permissive waivers for building and student activity fees for active duty military. Due to a recent change to the Department of Defense’s Tuition Assistance Program, only tuition is covered for students, but not the associated fees. Students using the assistance program to attend college need to make up the difference in costs.

Statutory clean-up
HB 1961, prime-sponsored by Rep. Hans Zeiger (R-Puyallup), passed the house unanimously Monday (97-0-1). The bill’s Senate companion, SB 5977, prime-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor), passed that chamber on a unanimous vote Wednesday (49-0). The bills would expire old bonds, defund programs, pilots, and waivers within the community and technical college system to improve efficiency and streamline provisions within state statutes.

Corrections education
HB 1704, prime-sponsored by Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle), is on the House Floor Calendar awaiting a vote. The bill would allow community and technical colleges to provide associate degrees in corrections institutions. Currently, CTCs partner with the Department of Corrections to provide basic skills and vocational training to help offenders be job-ready when they re-enter society. The bill has no fiscal impact as this work will be part of the existing educational contract.

Other bills important to the community and technical college system are also moving through the legislative process:
·         Campus safety provisions (SB 5518)

More details are available in our latest Bill Watch List.

Coming up this week

Committee hearings on bills related to higher education will take a temporary hiatus in the beginning of this week as the House and Senate focus on floor voting in time for the Wednesday, March 11 cutoff. Committees may resume hearings on higher education bills, although the committee agendas are still in flux.