Antasia Parker/ VP of Legislative Affairs

What is the office of Legislative Affairs about--what do you do?
The office of Legislative Affairs deals with our legislative bodies, lobbying on behalf of the students of Western on the local, statewide, and federal levels.

Each year an Associated Students state and federal legislative agenda is drafted. The issues that are included in our agendas are decided by the Legislative Affairs Council, which is composed of members of the student body and one advisor, and is approved by the AS BOD.

During winter quarter the Associated Students Legislative Liaison, which is currently Sasha Sleiman, lives in Olympia and progresses our agenda in the legislature.

In our State Legislative Agenda we have three session priorities; Affirm that the best form of financial aid is low tuition.

Financial aid and tuition is a constant issue we deal with. Our Governor, Christine Gregoire, has presented a comprehensive education plan for Washington through a publication entitled “Washington Learns.” In it she calls for a tuition increase ceiling of 7 percent.

The Governor’s budget is geared toward education this biennium (legislative budget session) which is great for us. As she is taking a serious look at tuition and the creation of a predictable tuition policy (a set way in which tuition will be determined) a 7 percent cap will still lead to the doubling of tuition price in another 7-10 years.

Support the conversion of Western’s Human Services degree program from self-sustaining to state-supported status.

When degree programs are self-sustaining the students of those programs pay more than many other students while using essentially the same services. In efforts to make tuition lower for this segmented population of our students we have collaborated with the administration to gain funding for the human services program as well as Teaching English as a Second Language.

The Governor’s budget has included funding for both of these programs. However, this is not the end all. The Governor’s budget is considered as a suggestion to the legislature.

Support funding for the expansion of the Commute Trip Reduction Act to include college students.

We are pursuing the expansion of the Commute Trip Reduction Act to include university students. The move would lower the number of single occupancy vehicles on campuses.

Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) is a statewide program that encourages institutions and businesses with 100 or more employees to effectively plan and execute reductions in the number of employees traveling to and from work in single occupancy vehicles. CTR encourages these reductions by supporting alternative transportation options for commuting, such as taking the bus, riding a bike or walking and carpooling.
The expansion of the CTR act would create another position on campus to oversee the programming and the circulation of information to students about alternative transportation options. Students could expect to see a change in the accessibility and ease of find other ways to get to and from school each day.
Kevin McClain, the VP of Campus and Community Affairs, has been doing a lot of work to progress this session priority.
This is a brief introduction to the work the office of Legislative Affairs. In the future members of LAC will be composing these sections and specifics of bills we are progressing will be given.
If you have any questions you can contact me, the Associated Students vice president of legislative affairs, at asvp.legislative@wwu.edu.

UPCOMING EVENTS:
Lobby Training: On February 11, the Office of Legislative Affairs, in conjunction with the LAC, is holding a lobbying training. The purpose of this training is to empower Associated Student clubs, and more widely the student body of Western Washington University, to lobby legislatively for issues of concern to them. The sessions offered will give you, your club or organization the foundational tools necessary to launch a legislative campaign.

Viking Day: On February 19, the Associated Students will be holding a lobbying day, also known as “Viking Day,” in Olympia. This time is used to progress issues the Associated Students has prioritized for this legislative session and can be used to progress issues of concern to you or your organization.