January 15, 2023
Week 1 Recap
Good morning Huskies! I’m writing to you from the Joel M. Pritchard Building on the Capitol campus, commonly called Pritchard. This happens to be the hot spot for all the cool lobbyists and your one stop shop for legislative tea. (It’s also the main capitol food source haha.) This building was named after Joel M. Pritchard, a United States Congressman representing Washington State and a previous Lt. Governor. Fun fact: Pritchard for a little bit of time used to house the WA State Senate Chambers in its main floor, due to damage to the Capitol complex following the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake. It now houses lots of administrative staff, such as the Washington State Code Reviser.
Week 1 Overview
This week has been a whirlwind of activity. Day 1 of the Legislature saw the opening ceremonies of the 68th Legislative Session. Hundreds of people gathered in the Senate and House Galleries to watch the opening processions. Myself and some of the other student lobbyists huddled together in one of the House Galleries trying to get a glimpse of the activities. We listened in as the national anthem was sang, the pledge of allegiance recited, the house members sworn in, and an entrancing performance by members of the Nisqually tribe. Later that evening, I attended the House Committee on Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry which was hearing HB 1028. HB 1028 is a large package which aims to support victims of sexual assault and other crimes. While the ASUW OGR supports this package, we were disappointed to see that a ban on at-home, DIY sexual assault kits had not been included. The ASUW has been calling for this ban and earlier this academic year, we were successful in asking for a cease and desist order against a company promoting these products. I have been in talks with the sponsor of this legislation who assures me they will include this in the legislation in future steps.
Day 2 of the Legislature saw the first of many of my testimonies. Among many of the topics that the ASUW OGR is tasked with lobbying on this year, is the humane treatment of incarcerated people. More specifically, advocating for those in the prison labor industry to be compensated at the state minimum wage level. As such, I have been advocating on behalf of HB 1024, which among other things, advocates for paying incarcerated workers the state minimum wage. In addition to my testimony, myself and the student lobbyist team began hosting and meeting with legislation partners internal to the Legislature and externally.
Day 3 of the Legislature consisted of three different committee hearings I attended on behalf of UW students. The first committee was the Senate Higher Education Committee at the early hour of 8:00 am. The Committee held public hearings on two bills, both of which ASUW has signed in support of. The first bill is SB 5048, which eliminates college in the high school fees. The second legislation item was SB 5079, which codifies a date by which tuition operation fees for the following academic year must be released from our post-secondary education institutions. The next committee I attended was the House Post Secondary Education and Workforce Committee. This committee held public hearings for three different pieces of legislation, all of which ASUW has signed in as supportive. The first piece of legislation was HB 1030, which will allow the regional universities to offer doctorate degrees. The second piece of legislation was HB 1142, which increases tenure-track faculty at public baccalaureate institutions. The last piece of legislation was HB 1156, which extends the eligibility of participants in the Washington College Grant program.
In addition to supporting this legislation, I testified on behalf of ASUW students and shared a few stories with members of the committee. Video of my testimony can be found linked on the legislation website and will be embedded here soon. My last committee of the day was the House Appropriations Committee which was holding a hearing on the State’s Operating budget. We showed support for certain items in the governor’s proposed budget which were funded for the University of Washington. You can also find my testimony in that committee on the budget’s website and will be embedded here soon.
Day 4 of the Legislature consisted entirely of meetings with internal and external partners on legislative priority items.
To wrap up my week, day 5 of the Legislature consisted of two committee hearings and a few partner meetings. I had another early 8:00am House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Committee hearing. I gave testimony in support of HB 1069, which adopts an intrastate mental health counselor compact.