Hella Bus Blog
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Attorney General and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna presented his Higher Ed plan to UW students Friday. While he has made K-12 reform a center piece of his campaign Higher Ed had largely taken a backseat. His rhetoric on friday seemed to indicate however that he would make it a priority if elected Governer.
McKenna decried the current state of higher education, noting that state support for 4 year and community colleges had taken a disproportionate hit in the recession. He connected the importance of higher ed to the health of the states economy noting that besides costing too much the current college system did not produce enough degrees in high demand fields, like health sciences and engineering.
He pledged to return higher eduction to previous levels of funding, with students paying for 50% of their education while the state funded the rest.
However the way he promised to do this raised some eyebrows among state democrats.
Quick update here, last night, HB 2205 (16 and 17 year old advanced registration) passed the house without any of the unfriendly amendments we mentioned before. That means, thus far, Washington is on track to allow 16 and 17 year olds to register to vote ahead of time so when they turn 18 they're ready to vote.
So, what comes next? The Senate companion bill, SB 6128, still has one or two hoops to jump through before (hopefully) making it to a full vote.
Still we are HELLA EXCITED about this development. We're keeping close tabs and will give you all the good info as soon as it happens!
The Bus office is on the edge of our seats. Today, our favorite bill HB 2205 is up for a vote in front of the full house. For those who don't remember HB 2205 would allow 16 & 17 year olds to pre-register to vote. Though you would still have to be 18 to vote this bill is still ridiculously exciting because it would allow us to get out the vote at high-schools.
However there are a few amendments that have to be debated and voted on before the full bill can be passed. Some of these are friendly (read administrative, tweaking language without changing the meaning of the bill) including amendments by our main man Rep.Spoke-Andy Billig (D-3) and Head Higher-Ed Honcho Rep. Hans Zeiger (R-25).
However two amendments one by Rep. Overstreet (R-42) and the other by Rep. Taylor (R-15) would significantly change the bill. Rep. Overstreet's amendment would require 16 & 17 year olds to confirm their address by responding to a piece of mail sent by the secretary of state. This is a pretty clear attempt to mitigate the effect of this bill by placing a barrier that no other voter has to go through.
In a similar attempt to derail the bill, Rep. Taylor's amendment would require 16 & 17 year olds to present valid photo ID at to register, something many 16 & 17 year olds don't have. Cross your fingers that this bill will pass without the amendments.
Here at the Bus we believe technology has enormous power to change the world. Indeed we were early adopters of space age Vote Bot technology, that enables us to register voters at the speed of love. That's why were intrigued by Representative Reuven "the Honey Badger" Carlyle's (D-36) bill to move Washington's public K-12 schools onto open source textbooks. This effort comes on the heels of last year's bill that created a catalogue of popular open source textbooks for use by any university, so long as they promise limit the cost of students printing them to 30 dollars.
Rep. Carlyle speaking on the floor of the house.
This year the two bills that Rep. Carlyle introduced (HB 2336 and HB 2337) would do largely the same thing for K-12. Notably new textbooks would largely not have to be created. Because Washington has embraced common core standards with 43 other states, textbooks for most subjects are currently available under the creative commons license. Students with an e-reader can currently access these books for free, and those without would likely pay less than 5 bucks for a copy of their text books.
Every year the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) brings down a gaggle of fresh faced, wide eyed, and idealistic students down to Olympia to talk to legislators about the issues relevant to higher education. This year the lobby day topped off the appropriately branded #FML (fund my learning) week.
The day kicked off with speeches from a number of legislators including a visibly enthusiastic Representative Hans Zeiger (R-25). These speeches represented the unusual position that Higher Education is in. While most view it as the provenance of Democrats it is common to see Republicans who are very supportive of higher ed. What is certainly true is the parties are pushing radically different (though not incompatible) bills. While republicans are driving bills that would allow enable student governance and oversight, Democrats are seeking new revenue to reduce costs for students. Ultimately, the message students received was one of urgency. State budget shortfalls mean legislators are scrambling for a way to resolve the gaps without sacrificing valuable programs. Student's aim to make sure that Higher Ed remains a funding priority. Pictures!
A time-lapse of photos taken from the International Space Station brings us this incredible flyover of the earth. It brings up one of my favorite quotes by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell in which he describes seeing the earth from outer space "You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.'"
Permit me a bit of wonkishness, but the news yesterday that credit ratings agencies Fitch and Moody's downgraded the credit outlook of Washington state paints in as stark a light as possible what ails Washington. While not an actual credit downgrade, (remember this fiasco) it still bodes ill for Washington.
A credit downgrade would make it more expensive for the state to borrow money, which we do for most large-scale infrastructure projects.
More noteworthy than the threat of downgrade is the reason why Washington is being threatened at all. Our sales tax isn't cutting it.
Today is the crowning moment in the battle for marriage equality in Washington. House and Senate hearings on marriage equality set the stage for Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen's announcement that she (D-10) has decided to vote for marriage equality - giving the measure the final vote it needs to pass!
Anita Yandle, repping the Young Democrats, testifies in favor of Equality.