COP staff braved all the elements in Olympia this week – snow, torrential rain, and wind – during our trips to the state Capitol.
On Tuesday nearly 200 high school and college students from public and private four and two-year colleges and universities descended on Olympia from around the state to advocate for increased funding for the State Need Grant. Currently, nearly 24,000 students qualify for but do not receive the grant due to a lack of available funding. Nearly 10,000 of those students attend one of the public four-year institutions. This can result in increased time to degree and larger debt loads upon graduation. Fully funding the State Need Grant is also a component of our Washington Competes agenda as well a 2017 legislative priority for the Washington Student Achievement Council.
On Wednesday COP joined our partners in welcoming new WSAC Executive Director Michael Meotti and thanked OSPI representative Gil Mendoza for his outstanding service as a member of the Council. During the meeting the Council received an update from OFM Director David Schumacher on Governor Inslee’s 2017-19 operating and capital budget proposals.
On Thursday COP Executive Director Paul Francis, UW Police Chief John Vinson, SBCTC Director of Student Services Joe Holliday, and UW Deputy Title IX/ADA Coordinator Amanda Paye presented on the 18-month effort of the Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force to members of the Senate Higher Education Committee. Details on the Task Force’s work are available at: http://www.councilofpresidents.org/safewacampus.html.
COP staff also continues to testify on a number of important pieces of legislation in both House and Senate committees.
Next Friday, February 17 is the deadline for bills to pass out of their respective policy committees. Therefore, policy committees will be extremely active with executive action sessions. The House Higher Education Committee will also hear legislation related to the disciplinary process at private institutions of higher education. The Senate Higher Education Committee will take up legislation related to campus sexual violence, eligibility for the State Need Grant program, and student veterans.
Fiscal committee agendas are also filling up given the quickly the approaching deadline for bills to pass out of their respective fiscal committees.