For many, December is a time for holiday cheer. For interest groups in Washington state, it’s also a time for strategy.
The Columbian reported earlier this week on what Southwest Washington business groups want to see happen in the 2014 legislative session convening next month. They invited state lawmakers to a breakfast on Wednesday, quizzed them about their priorities for the session and gave the legislators a policy wish list.
Meanwhile, the Washington Student Association, which represents students at Washington’s public colleges, is crafting its own list of policy changes for the session, which kicks off on Jan. 13. The group’s priorities for next month’s session include:
- Better voting access for college students.
- Providing in-state tuition rates for all student veterans.
- Passing the state DREAM Act, which would let immigrants who live in the U.S. illegally access need-based grants for college tuition.
- A sales tax holiday, when students could buy text books without paying the sales tax.
- Local funding options for public transit.
- A dedicated revenue source for higher education.
- Opposing differential tuition, which allows colleges to increase tuition for students pursuing degrees in certain fields, such as engineering or nursing.
“This is one of our most ambitious legislative agendas yet, matched with one of our most proactive, capable teams we’ve seen,” the group’s president, E.B. Vodde, said in a statement.
It’s especially ambitious given that the 2014 session is short one. The Washington Legislature meets for 105-day sessions in odd-numbered years, when they tackle the state’s upcoming two-year budget. Lawmakers meet for shorter, 60-day sessions in even-numbered years.
The WSA represents more than 150,000 students at public colleges and universities in Washington state, including those at Washington State University Vancouver. More information about the group is at http://www.WAstudents.org.