[ Editor's note: This blog post was first published on Western Legislative Review. Please visit http://wp.wwu.edu/wlr/ for more updates from Olympia. If you wish, you may subscribe there to receive these posts via email. ]
The 2016 legislative session is underway in Olympia!
The Washington State Legislature convened today to kick-off the 2016 session that is scheduled to last sixty days, concluding on March 10th.
Legislative sessions in Washington are defined by the two-year period in which bills are considered, known as the biennium. The first year of the biennium occurs in odd-numbered years and lasts 105 calendar days, while the “short” or “supplemental” session takes place in even-numbered years and lasts 60 calendar days.
Over the next two months, legislators will consider various policy issues and approve a supplemental budget with adjustments to the 2015-17 state operating, capital and transportation budgets passed during the previous legislative session. As reported in a recent WLR post, Governor Inslee released his supplemental budget proposal last month, creating a starting point for this year’s budgetary process.
Listed below are Western’s priorities for the 2016 legislative session, which are largely budget requests that were not funded in 2015. These proposals aim to build upon Western’s strengths as a publically-purposed university while serving the needs of the State:
- Ensuring Student Success – Western requests $2.4 million to fund services that help students graduate. These services, such as student advising and academic tutoring, help students successfully navigate college and are especially critical to the success of first generation students and students that are traditionally underserved in the higher education system.
- Wireless Network Upgrades – Western requests $4 million to upgrade its aging data network and wireless infrastructure on campus. This funding would provide an ongoing source for improving and maintaining the university’s IT foundation to ensure a world class education for students, to support a workplace of choice for faculty and staff, and to provide seamless wireless connectivity for emergency responders.
- Campus Security Upgrades – Western requests $4.8 million in capital funding to improve its emergency response and ensure campus safety. This investment will expand Western’s electronic access control system to enable immediate lockdown of university facilities during emergency scenarios and allow for all buildings on campus to be equipped with the same safety standards.
Additional information about these proposals can be found here.
Western’s Office of Government Relations will update this blog throughout the session to help keep the WWU campus and community informed about legislative issues impacting Western and higher education around the state. You can subscribe to this blog by entering your email address and clicking the green button in the upper right of the WLR homepage to receive email notifications when new entries are posted. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!