February 5th marked the first major hurdle in the 2016 Legislative Session- the house of origin policy cutoff! This means that all of the Senate bills needed to have been passed out of the Senate policy committees and onto the fiscal committees or the Rules Committee in order for the bills to remain in play or ‘alive’ as we continue along in session. The same goes for House bills in House policy committees. If a bill was not passed out of committee by last Friday, it is considered ‘dead’. The only exception to this rule is if the budget writers decide a bill is necessary to implement the budget, or NTIB.
There are numerous higher education bills impacting The Evergreen State College that made it through the first cutoff date:
- HB 2573, sponsored by Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, would address the shortage of public school teachers in numerous ways. Evergreen is working with the prime sponsor to ensure we are included in the important work of addressing statewide teacher shortages.
- HB 2619 and SB 6260, sponsored by Representative Larry Haler and Senator Mike Hewitt, would allow the Department of Corrections to implement postsecondary education degree programs for eligible inmates.
- HB 2680, sponsored by Representative Melanie Stambaugh, would create the Washington Open Education Pilot Grant Program for four-year institutions, which aims at addressing textbook affordability.
- HB 2755 and SB 6409, sponsored by Representative Hans Zeiger and Senator Barbara Bailey, would create efficiencies in higher education by streamlining processes and eliminating unnecessary reporting requirements for public institutions of higher education.
- HB 2769, sponsored by Representative Tana Senn, would allow a pilot program for community and technical colleges to select five institutions to offer bachelor degrees.
- HB 2801, sponsored by Representative Drew Hansen, would make undocumented students eligible for the College Bound Scholarship.
- HB 2820, sponsored by Representative Gerry Pollet, would create the Washington Promise program, providing two years of free tuition for students enrolled in community and technical colleges. The companion bill, sponsored by Senator Pramila Jayapal, died in the Senate.
- HB 2825 and SB 6466, sponsored by Representative Noel Frame and Senator Cyrus Habib, would establish a work group tasked with removing obstacles within higher education for students with disabilities transferring their accommodations.
- HB 2955, sponsored by Representative Drew Hansen, would establish the Free to Finish College program, which would allow students who are 15 credits shy of their degree and have been away from school for at least 3 years to return and complete their degree.
- SB 6587, sponsored by Senator Marko Liias, would decouple tuition and Service & Activities Fees, allowing governing boards at institutions of higher education to increase or decrease their fees.
- SB 6626, sponsored by Senator Barbara Bailey, would implement a workgroup to study the feasibility of offering baccalaureate degrees in three years.
Today, the 30th day of the session, marks the second cutoff date when bills must be passed out of the fiscal committees and into the Rules Committee for consideration. Check back tomorrow for a report of what made it through the fiscal cutoff.
To follow along and review the upcoming cutoff dates, take a look at the 2016 Session Cutoff Calendar.