Two higher education bills already passed by the Senate sit in House committee

From staff reports

Senate bill could require  financial literacy seminars

The Washington House Higher Education Committee held a public hearing on Tuesday for a bill which would require higher education institutions to provide financial literacy seminars to students.

Senate Bill 5100’s required live seminars would include information on student loan options, the availability of private and public scholarships, work study options and basic financial skills. The bill would also include perspectives from a diverse group of higher education students who have had to use these financial options before, said Megan Mulvihill, a higher education committee staff member.

Cody Eccles, the Washington State director of government relations and business affairs, presented a brief statement to the committee on behalf of the Washington Council of Presidents.

“We work with a prime sponsor to make sure there is enough flexibility in the bill to allow us to do this in the most efficient manner on each campus,” Eccles said.

State Treasurer Duane Davidson also spoke in front of the committee during the public hearing on Senate Bill 5100.

“Financial literacy is the goal of the treasurer’s office,” Davidson said. “Financial literacy is needed in all aspects of our society.”

In Davidson’s comments in support of Bill 5100 he noted the new difficulties people face when seeking higher education.

“I basically worked my way through college and finished without any debt,” he said. “College students are bombarded with challenges that I never faced when I was in college.”

Davidson has two children currently in higher education programs. He said this perspective helped him to see how important it is for the right financial information to be available for students.

“There are many different options, not all of them are very good options,” Davidson said. “Any legislation that helps add some financial literacy to that group of our society would be very helpful.”

Reporting by Tyler Watson

Student free speech bill hears public testimony

The House Education Committee heard public testimony from 12 individuals in support of a bill concerning students’ rights and their freedom of speech and press in Washington public schools on March 16.

The 12 individuals from across the state who testified on Senate Bill 5064 included students, present and former journalism advisers, and professionals who work with student publications.

One testimonial came from Mariah Valles, the editor-in-chief of the Auburn Invader at Auburn High School. She said she believes student journalists have more knowledge about issues regarding student publications than school officials.

“If student editors are under constant threat of censorship, then they and the reporters never learn the practice of creating and recognizing real news that serves the community,” she said. “Censored news is fake news.”

Representatives from the Washington State School Directors’ Association and the Association of Washington School Principals were also present and voiced support for the bill.

The public hearing for Senate Bill 5064 was initially slated to be 25 minutes long, however due to the number of individuals who signed up for public testimony, the hearing lasted three times the amount of time allotted.

Bill 5064 will move to a House Education Committee executive session on March 28.

Reporting by Sarah Olsen