Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We have just recently passed the half way point in the 105-day legislative session and I wanted to take a moment to update you on some of the progress, and give you information on the 36th Legislative District Town Hall coming up on March 11th.
Making college affordable for all
The rising cost of higher education has hit many students and their families hard, making the dream of attaining a college degree or certificate less achievable.
Building an economy that works for everyone means making college affordable and accessible for every qualified student. Students will tell you that textbooks and materials are a huge part of that cost.
This is why I am prime sponsoring a bill that would expand the use of open educational resources (OER).
OERs are free instructional materials and resources available for use by anyone. According to recent analysis conducted by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, these resources have help drive a decrease in the costs of course materials from an average of $701 in 2007-08, to $563 in 2014-15.
My bill (HB 1561) would expand access to these materials by:
· Creating a pilot program for our four year public colleges to expand the use of OER;
· Awarding/offering grants for a campus coordinator to facilitate, coordinate, and promote OERs, or directly support faculty in developing OERs, or both;
· Exploring with other states whether there is interest in developing a multistate OER network for sharing and expanding available OERs; and
· Studying the cost of textbooks and the use of OER at four-year colleges around the state.
I’m pleased to share that HB 1561 was approved by both the Higher Education and the Appropriations Committees (meaning the policy and funding was approved). Next step is to get it voted out of the House! I will continue working on making college more affordable and accessible to all who desire to pursue their academic goals and, in turn, the American Dream.
Addressing our homeless youth crisis
Washington is in the midst of an epic homelessness crisis that is affecting families, children, and our communities. Recent reports show more than 35,000 children in Washington’s public K-12 schools are homeless.
In an effort to alleviate some of the worst aspects of the crisis, the Legislature passed the Homeless Youth Act of 2015. This act moved administration of Crisis Residential Centers and HOPE Centers from the Children’s Administration to the newly created Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Programs within the state Department of Commerce.
Unfortunately, the Homeless Youth Act did not adequately address the need for proper information sharing between these organizations. Currently, Children’s Administration staff can only provide non-identifying information to the Crisis Residential Center and HOPE Center staff until the child physically arrives at the center.
In order to make quality decisions regarding placement and safety of homeless children, we need a solution. I have proposed HB 1816 to fix this issue, which allows Children’s Administration staff to disclose certain confidential information to the Crisis Residential Center (CRC) and HOPE Center staff. Sharing this information allows staff to make thoughtful decisions about placement, safety and service needs of youth placed in the CRC and HOPE centers. This technical fix to the Homeless Youth Act ensures our homeless youth have the best opportunities to flourish and succeed.
36th LD Live In-District Town Hall
Our democracy works best when the people get involved. It’s in that spirit that I want to invite each of you to the 36th Legislative District’s live in-district town hall event. We had more than 320 people attend our town hall last month and we hope for equally strong attendance this time!
Here are the details.
What: 36th LD in-district town hall
When: Saturday, March 11th at 11:00 AM (to 12:30 PM)
Why: To give you an opportunity to talk face to face with your legislative delegation about what is important to you and what is happening this year in Olympia.
We hope to see you all there. Let’s fill the room again!
It is an honor to serve as your voice in Olympia. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office with any comments, concerns, or ideas you have to help make Washington a better place to live.