WSA Legislative Agenda 2019 Victories

Students from the Washington Student Association's (WSA) member campuses create a legislative agenda that is meant to increase access to public four-year universities in Washington State and improve the quality of on-campus services that are essential to the academic success of our students. The following is list of legislative victories from the 2019 legislative session. 

Fully Funded State Need Grant, Now Known as the Washington College Grant - House Bill 2158 (Hansen)

After years of advocacy, Washington's largest need-based financial aid, WA College Grant, is now on track to be fully funded and expanded to more students and their families. Full tuition support and fees would be available for students from families of four earning about $50,000 a year or less, with partial scholarships for students from households making up to the state’s median income, which is about $92,000 a year for a family of four!

Religious Accommodations for Students  SB 5166 (Hasegawa)

Under the SB 5166, postsecondary institutions are required to accommodate students in rescheduling tests and making up absences due to religious observances. Schools also must post the accommodation policy on their websites and reference it in the syllabus. Students requiring an accommodation must notify the faculty member in writing within two weeks of the beginning of the class.

Interdisciplinary Education for Health Care Professional Students - HB 1726 (Riccelli)

Nurses, Physicians, and Pharmacists are all trained in blood pressure monitoring, blood glucose, and cholesterol screening, immunizations, medication counseling, and so much more.  Students lead this effort and have found that their limiting factor to how much they can work with multidisciplinary student teams and serve our communities is finding enough professionals from each discipline to supervise. HB 1726 allows any qualified preceptor to oversee a health professional student, in turn promoting access to affordable health services and better education for students.

Student Loan Relief and Reform Act 

Sponsor: Sen. Marko Liias.

The number of borrowers age 60 and over has increased by over 35 percent in five years. Women hold nearly two-thirds of outstanding national student-loan debt. Students from low-income backgrounds are more likely to need to borrow and have higher default rates. Black graduates average $7,000 more debt than white classmates, while Hispanic borrowers are more than twice as likely to default. The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) would be authorized to contract with up to five private financial institutions to refinance student loans on more favorable terms by leveraging interest rate buy-downs and loan loss reserve coverage.

Interdisciplinary Training of Healthcare Prof. Students

Sponsor: Rep. Marcus Riccelli

\Nurses, Physicians, and Pharmacists are all trained in blood pressure monitoring, blood glucose, and cholesterol screening, immunizations, medication counseling, and so much more.  Students lead this effort and have found that their limiting factor to how much they can work with multidisciplinary student teams and serve our communities is finding enough professionals from each discipline to supervise.  This bill will help multidisciplinary students have increased opportunities to learn how to work together, serve our communities, and more efficiently utilize the resources within our university and health care systems.

 

Affirmative Consent, & Healthy Relationships in K12 Curriculum

Sponsor: Rep. Monica Stonier & Sen. Claire Wilson - SB 5395

Lack of education around affirmative consent perpetuates rape culture, victim blaming, and a decreases accountability. While universities try to educate new students about the importance of consent from all parties involved in sexual activity, and healthy relationship practices it is too late to try to embed these important behaviors in young adults. For this reason, the WSA supports mandated comprehensive sex-education in our K-12 system that informs students on the need to obtain consent, and be a part of relationships that are based on mutual respect and affection and are free from violence, coercion, and intimidation;

Food and Housing Security

Sponsor: Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self

National studies have shown that students on college campuses are facing food and housing insecurity at an alarming rate - one study indicating that 36% of students have experienced food or housing insecurity in the last 30 days. Students who are going through these difficult times have unique needs based on the degree of food or housing insecurity that they face. Students are asking that the state legislature commission a study that will gather data on the number of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students currently facing food and/or housing insecurity, analyze the successes of campus programs or other state’s efforts, and offer policy recommendations to assist students in need.

Title IX Protection & Adjudication

Sponsor: Rep. Mike Pelliccioti

An estimate of one in every five womxn are sexually assaulted while they are in college and only around 13% are able to report due to personal or institutional barriers. The WSA recognizes that this issue is not one that exclusively impacts women and folks, and that male-identified and gender non-conforming folks also experience sexual and domestic violence. The WSA is urging the state legislature to increase for survivors of sexual assault by codifing guidelines laid out in the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Department of Education.

 

Veteran Tuition Waivers 

Currently, student veterans who receive a general discharge under honorable conditions are commonly are ineligible to receive the educational benefits that other veterans are able to. Additionally, a 200 unit cap on academic credits prevents student veterans from attaining a four-year degree. Our legislative priority aims to: Increase tuition waiver from 200 to 250 credits, and expands the definition of "eligible veteran or National Guard member" for the purposes of tuition waivers at the public institutions of higher education to veteran or National Guard members who received a general discharge under honorable conditions.
 

Wrap Around Services for Students Experiencing Homelessness

Rep. Ortiz-Self and Senator Emily Randall

HB1572 & SB5800 would establish a pilot program at certain universities within the state of Washington, that would look at ways to use already existing resources as well as finding new ways to help support our Homeless Students get through and be successful in college. This is done through a variety of potential supports ranging from laundry & shower services, free or reduced meal plans, to case management among a variety of different methods that will be looked at to help support these students.

Native American Opportunity Scholarship

Senator John McCoy and Rep. Drew Hansen

The Native American Opportunity Scholarship Act (HB2001 & SB5709) would establish a scholarship fund with joint contributions from the State of Washington & The 29 Tribes within the State. This funding would fund the scholarship for the enrolled tribal members within the state of Washington and ensuring that these students will not have to take on debt to achieve their dream of college.

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Executive Director - Guillermo Rogel Jr. | ed@wastudents.org