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Washington State Moves Toward Free and Reduced College Tuition, With Businesses Footing the Bill

The New York Times
May 8th, 2019

Washington State lawmakers have taken a major step toward offering free or reduced college tuition using funds from businesses there, including Amazon and Microsoft, in a move that is being applauded by policy analysts for its innovation and reach.

In most cases, people who have lived in the state for at least a year would qualify, as long as the purpose of relocating was not to attend college.

The fund would also apportion about $200 million for community colleges, public four-year colleges and universities, and apprenticeships, according to State Representative Drew Hansen, a Democrat who sponsored the bill.

“It’s a game changer for the state,” said Michael Meotti, the executive director of the Washington Student Achievement Council, a state agency that focuses on education.

 

Mr. Hansen said there had been “a lot of talk about free colleges,” especially by politicians.

“This is not free college as an empty slogan,” he said. “This is free college that is real, and funded by a dedicated revenue source, which I think is unusual.”

 

Read More at The New York Times

“Washington lawmakers seek smoother path to redemption for formerly incarcerated residents”

The News Tribune
February 8th, 2019

When Carolina Landa was released from prison after completing an almost four-year sentence, she attempted to relocate to Olympia in order to find a better life for her and her young son.

Landa applied for housing at 10 different places over a six-month period before she got the break she needed from a local landlord. She explained her situation to him, and, although he was skeptical at first, he agreed to give her a chance. Landa, 37, and her son Zachariah have been living there since 2015.

“He was one of those people that goes off of the feeling he gets from a person and he said, ‘You know what, I’m going to give you a second chance because I believe in second chances,’” said Landa.

Landa’s struggle isn’t uncommon. Many people who exit the criminal justice system struggle to find housing and employment. According to the Washington Statewide Reentry Council, 8 to 10 percent of those exiting prison release directly into homelessness.

Her experience is the reason why she testified on behalf of HB 1041 on Jan. 24. The bill is called The New Hope Act and was unanimously passed out of the House Public Safety Committee on Feb. 7.

Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, is one of the bill’s primary sponsors.

 

Read More at The News Tribune

Washington just passed the country’s toughest net neutrality legislation

Fast Company
February 28th, 2018

Just days after the Trump administration finalized its repeal of national net neutrality regulations, Washington State has passed sweeping legislation to regulate internet access for its residents.

“We have a long tradition in this state of working across party lines to protect people’s privacy and enact practical consumer protection laws,” says Drew Hansen

The bill cleared the state senate on a 35-to-14 vote, with bipartisan support. It had already blown through the house of representatives by 93-to-5 on February 9, and governor Jay Inslee is on record as ready to sign it.

“It’s swift bipartisan action to protect net neutrality, which is terrific,” the bill’s main sponsor, Democratic representative Drew Hansen, tells Fast Company.

 

Read More at Fast Company

Students living here illegally would be eligible for Washington state aid under new bill

The Seattle Times
January 25th, 2018

Aiming to send a message to Congress, the state Senate has passed a bill that would allow students who came to this country illegally as children to get state money to help pay for college.

The bill would make students who have been here for at least three years before earning a state high-school diploma eligible for College Bound, a scholarship program for low-income Washington students.

The bill passed 38-11 Wednesday, with all Senate Democrats and about half of Republicans in favor. A similar bill in the House has also garnered bipartisan support.

 

Read more in The Seattle Times

The Federal Government’s Strange Silence About Gun Crimes

The New York Times
December 19th, 2017

Last year, at least 117,407 Americans who were barred by law from buying a gun nevertheless tried to purchase one from a licensed dealer. These people had been convicted of domestic violence, another violent crime or a drug offense; had been committed to a mental hospital or found to be mentally unfit; or met other criteria that would have gotten them flagged in the national database used for instant background checks.

Since July, when someone fails a background check at a gun dealer in Washington State, the dealer is required to alert the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. That information is then put into a statewide police database, and local departments are supposed to notify victims of domestic abuse that their abuser tried to purchase a weapon. Washington’s Republican-led Senate passed the legislation in April, a month after the Democratic-led House approved it.

This is how it should work everywhere.

For victims of domestic abuse, Washington’s law is vital. “This is no longer just ‘my abuser is out walking around,’” said Drew Hansen, a Washington state representative who championed the law. “It’s ‘my abuser has taken active steps to make him or herself more dangerous, probably to me.’” If local law enforcement officials have that information, and pass it along, victims can take action.

 

Read more at the New York Times