As the 2014 legislative session reaches the half-way point, key priorities of Gov. Jay Inslee's have passed through the House or Senate.
The session kicked off with House passage of the DREAM Act, and the Senate followed suit, passing a bill that will soon land on the governor's desk for his signature.
"The DREAM Act represents a new future for many aspiring Washington students. While we've opened the doors of our colleges and universities to students from all walks of life, too many still face an insurmountable financial barrier," said Inslee. "This bill ensures that the young men and women we've invested in at our high schools and who aspire to become productive American citizens will now have fair access to the financial support they need to turn their dreams into reality. This is a landmark achievement for the 2014 session. I appreciate the hard work of the legislators and students who have been working on this for so long and who helped pass this bill. I look forward to signing this bill and celebrating a big step forward for thousands of young Washingtonians."
Other Inslee priorities and request legislation include:
HB 2639/SB 6312 improves how mental health and chemical dependency services are provided. It's a first step to integrating state Medicaid contracting for behavioral health services, a move that will help the state provide better care to more people at a lower cost over time.
HB 2643 is Inslee's Healthiest Next Generation Initiative is a public-private effort to improve the health of young Washingtonians by working to prevent obesity and promote healthy K-12 and early learning environments. Inslee hopes to reverse alarming trends in children's health and wellness. Ten years ago, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona warned that due to "increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents."
HB 2540 expands the number of options available to students to meet their math and science graduation requirements. The bill encourages students to enroll in certain career and technical education (CTE) courses, opening up access to challenging coursework that reflects the new Common Core State Standards in math and Next Generation Science Standards.
HB 2171, which Inslee requested along with Attorney General Bob Ferguson, strengthens economic protections for veterans and active-duty military personnel. It passed the House unanimously.
Inslee says there is still major work to be done before the end of the session, including additional funding for basic education and a transportation package.
"We have a paramount duty that we still aren't meeting, and a growing number of roads and bridges in need of repair," said Inslee. "We've seen the start of some good things here in Olympia, but some of the Legislature's most important work remains undone."