Randall assumes chair of Senate Higher Education Committee

26th Legislative District Democrat previously served as vice-chair

State Sen. Emily Randall, D-Bremerton, has been chosen to chair the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, her office reported on Tuesday.

The 26th Legislative District senator previously served as vice-chair of the committee.

As acting chair of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, Randall has spent the interim touring colleges and universities around the state to check on innovative new programs being implemented. Randall’s selection as chair will be formalized in a vote of the full Senate on the first day of the 2020 legislative session.

“I’m honored to have the trust of my colleagues to lead our efforts to make higher education more affordable and accessible to all Washingtonians,” Randall said in a news release. “As the first in my family to graduate from college, I know firsthand what higher education can do to open up a world of possibilities.”

During her time on the committee, the Legislature passed the Workforce Education Investment Act, which dramatically increased foundational support for community and technical colleges and created the Washington College Grant Program, a statewide guaranteed free college program serving up to 110,000 low-income students.

The Legislature also passed a bill sponsored by Randall — Senate Bill 5800 — which establishes pilot programs at four colleges across the state, two on each side of the Cascades, to provide assistance to homeless students and students who were in foster care, Randall’s office stated.

“As a state, we’ve taken important steps to support young students experiencing homelessness while in our K-12 system, but once they get to college, they lose that network,” she said. “This bill will help connect students to services and it will allow us to collect data to inform our future efforts.”