The 2017 legislative session kicked off this past Monday. Council of Presidents staff hit the ground running with a number of meetings with policymakers and staff. Those meetings afford us the opportunity to highlight our joint 2017 legislative agenda with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and Independent Colleges of Washington – Washington Competes.
On Tuesday representatives from the Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force – staffed by COP – presented to the House Higher Ed Committee on their work over the past 18 months. Panelists spoke about the work related to both prevention and response, organized through seven subcommittees and leading to three reports to policymakers.
COP staff also participated on a panel to discuss the work of the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in Higher Education Task Force created in HB 1138 (2015). Meeting materials are available here and a video archive of the work session is available here.
On Thursday the Senate Higher Ed Committee – under the leadership of new Chair Senator Lynda Wilson – heard from the Washington Roundtable on their recent report – “Washington Kids 4 Washington Jobs”. According to the report, there will be 740,000 job openings in our state in the next five years. The majority of those jobs will require some postsecondary education or training.
Also on Wednesday the newly statewide elected officials – including State School Superintendent Chris Reykdal – were sworn in. Governor Inslee also gave his state of the state speech, focusing the majority of it on K-12 education.
Legislative committees have already begun hearing bills in the respective policy committees; we expect that to pick up next week as policymakers consider legislation related to student financial aid, student loan debt, educational programs for incarcerated adults, and more. On Tuesday morning, January 17 COP staff will present on our Washington Competes proposal to the Senate Higher Ed Committee. Our legislative directors will then highlight session priorities for each of the public baccalaureates that complement Washington Competes.