State Sen. Paull Shin said that as chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, he will push for creation of a university in Snohomish County in his new role as leader of a higher education panel.
“It’s important we have a four-year stand-alone college,” said the Democrat from Mukilteo who represents the 21st Legislative District. Shin was picked to head the revived Senate committee during Senate Democratic Caucus meetings this past weekend in Olympia.
Shin said he will conduct hearings in the coming legislative session and work to advance legislation dealing with the start-up of a college. The Legislature convenes Jan. 8.
“I’m hoping the governor will help. It is important that we try to get this done now,” he said. Shin’s selection should boost spirits of legislators, business leaders and residents seeking a new public university with a focus on science and technology instruction.
For the past two years, post-secondary education issues had been handled by a committee that also dealt with early learning and primary and secondary education matters.
The longtime chairwoman of that committee, Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, opposes launching a new college at this time. Under the old committee structure, it is unlikely any legislation involving a university would would’ve come out of her committee.
McAuliffe backs a recent state Higher Education Coordinating Board recommendation to funnel state money into existing community and technical colleges and universities. This would include the University of Washington-Bothell branch campus in her district.
“I would expect Sen. Shin would look very carefully at the HEC Board recommendations and consider those recommendations,” McAuliffe said, who also serves on the Senate Human Services and Corrections committee. “It might not be this year. (A new university) might be a future endeavor.”
In the past, Shin has supported the idea of a K-14 system, adding two years to the standard K-12 public school system.
Neither Shin nor McAuliffe considered the committee restructuring done purposefully to help the Snohomish County college effort.
They felt it reflected the increased attention this coming session lawmakers will be giving to programs aiding pre-school children and improving performance of elementary and secondary students.
Other area lawmakers receiving committee chair and vice-chair appointments include:
Sen. Darlene Fairley, D-Lake Forest Park, will head Government Operations and Elections.
“I asked for it,” Fairley said, adding that more bills move through that committee than any other in the Legislature. “All the local and state government issues and all the election issues.”
Fairley noted that the recent state Public Disclosure Commission’s proposal about state funding for judicial campaigns would find a trail through her committee.
“A House member has drawn up a bill,” Fairley said. “The PDC would like to go farther, but that’s not happening.”
Fairley said she expects to see bills addressing mail-in and electronic voting, too. “I’m a fan of paper trails,” she said.
Secretary of State Sam Reed recently said he’d push for legislation allowing straight-party ballots to be counted, even if a party affiliation wasn’t checked on mail-in ballots. Fairley said she anticipates receiving that bill from Reed.
Fairley will also serve on the Health and Longterm Care committee and continue on Ways and Means committee. “I’m pleased with the health care assignment,” Fairley said. “It’s going back to my legislative roots.”
• Sen. Jean Berkey, D-Everett, will lead Financial Institutions and Insurance, formerly Financial Institutions, Housing and Consumer Protection;
• Sen.-elect Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, will be Berkey’s first vice-chair on Financial Institutions and Insurance;
• Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, retains leadership of Transportation.
Jerry Cornfield is a reporter for The Herald in Everett. Enterprise staff contributed to this report.