On Friday February 17, the 2023 legislative session reached its first "cut-off" day, the final day where new legislation could be heard and voted on in policy committees. Friday February 24 was the second "cut-off," when the House and Senate fiscal committees had to pass bills onward for them to be viable.
Bills to expand eligibility for state college grants and scholarships for Native American students did not survive the fiscal committees. Bills that made it through supported helping students with basic needs, prison education, collective bargaining for student employees and the development of college wrestling programs.
The session meets the halfway point this week. The next major cut-off is March 8, when bills must be passed from their 'house of origin' to the opposite house for consideration. Another significant upcoming date is March 20, when Washington budget leaders will announce the state’s revenue forecast. That forecast will influence the legislature’s final operating and capital budgets.
With that as a backdrop, John Carmichael and Sandy Kaiser updated legislators on Evergreen’s progress with enrollment and advocated for our proposed budget. Rep. Joel McEntire (R-Cathlamet) was interested in learning more about Evergreen’s experience with prison education and indicated support for expanding the program. Student housing challenges were a focus for Rep. Frank Chopp (D-Seattle).
Rep. Beth Doglio (D-Olympia) is a home-district champion who proudly keeps an Evergreen campus photo in her office. We talked budget with Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-North Seattle) and had extensive discussions on Evergreen priorities with Rep. Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue), who leads the House higher education committee.
Sen. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia) is another home-district champion for the college whom we updated on campus life and our hopes for the budget. With House Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) we talked about the impact of Evergreen Tacoma and her upcoming town hall meeting there. A first-time visit with Rep. Peter Abbarno (R-Centralia) focused on Evergreen’s positive impact in the 20th legislative district, which includes southern Thurston, most of Lewis and parts of Cowlitz counties.
Incoming Evergreen freshman and Olympia High School wrestling champion Amari Brown and Sandy Kaiser testified on February 15 in favor of Senate Bill 5687, which would create a grant program to support post-secondary wrestling programs in the state. (Go to 20 minutes 15 seconds into the video.) Amari was an outstanding advocate for wrestling and Evergreen. Senator Brad Hawkins (R-East Wenatchee), a former wrestler, was so enthusiastic that he started watching one of Amari's winning matches on YouTube in the middle of the committee meeting.
Whether the bill ultimately passes or not, it was a good moment for Evergreen Geoducks.