Washington STEM 2021 Legislative Recap

For Washington STEM, the 2021 105-day legislative session was fast-paced, productive, and full of collaboration from educators, business leaders, and community members from across the state.

photo of Washington State capital building
During Washington’s 2021 legislative year Washington STEM, alongside our 10 regional STEM Network partners, and the 150-person Washington STEM advocacy coalition, worked to advance policies that focus on equity, STEM, and creating meaningful change for students who are furthest from opportunity in our state.

In total, 335 bills passed the Legislature in 2021. Washington STEM actively supported 40 bills, including 5 priority legislation.

SKIP TO:  Early Learning  Career Pathways  Office of Equity  Broadband Access  Dual Credit
  Advocacy in Action


Washington STEM brings together a broad set of stakeholders to ensure that the policies we are championing are equitable and feasible in a legislative cycle. With the support of our statewide partners, we focused on 5 policy asks prioritizing Washington STEM’s focus areas – Career Pathways; Early Learning; Statewide Office of Equity; Broadband expansion & Digital equity; and Equitable access to Dual Credit programs.


Our Goals:

  • Accessible, affordable, and high-quality early learning opportunities; 
  • Working conditions for early care and education providers that honor their expertise, increase retention and expand the workforce; 
  • Aligned systems across early learning, K-12, health, and mental health to connect and coordinate supports for families.

The outcome: Fair Start for Kids Act PASSED

  • Establishes a new account for child care and early learning purposes.
  • Makes child care more affordable for families.
  • Expands eligibility and decreases co-payments in the Working Connections Child Care Program and expands eligibility in the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program.
  • Provides increased rates, training, grants, supports, and services for child care and early learning providers.
  • Increases prenatal-to-three supports for providers and families.
  • Provides resources and supports for Family Friend and Neighbor providers.
  • Provides child care subsidies for families to resolve homelessness.
  • Professional Development and supports for substitute provider pool.
  • Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation.


Our ask: Maintain the Workforce Education Investment Account (WEIA) funding.  

The outcomeHouse Bill 1504 

  • The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship’s cap limiting state match dollars for the WSOS Advanced Degrees Pathways Account is increased from $1 million to $5 million.
  • Workforce development and career connected learning are added as allowable uses for the WEIA.
  • Budget: WEIA account funding received a boost and expansion of opportunities for students.


Our ask: Appropriately staff the Statewide Office of Equity, established in July of 2020  

  • The outcome: This request was fully funded at $1.2 million in the budget for this year.


Our ask: Expand equitable access to reliable, fast and affordable broadband to high speed internet and learning devices for students.

The outcome: HB 1365 PASSED

  • Helps schools attain a universal 1:1 student to learning device ratio.
  • Budget: $48 million for student learning devices and broadband connectivity.
  • Budget: Connectivity ($23.1 million). A $25 per student increase to the material, supplies, and operating (MSOC) cost rate for technology is provided beginning in the 2022-23 school year to support broadband connectivity.

The outcome: SB 5383 PASSED

  • Expands Broadband potential in rural areas by authorizing a public utility district or port district to provide retail telecommunication services in an unserved area.


Our ask: Expand dual credit opportunities for students.  

The outcome: HB 1302 “College in the High School” PASSED

  • Expands the College in the High School program to allow 9th graders to receive college credit by completing college level courses with a passing grade.
  • Requires high schools provide general information about the program to all students in grades 8-12 and to the parents and guardians of the students.


How does Washington STEM help create change through policy? Through partnership, collaboration, and hard work. Throughout the 2021 legislative session, we worked with organizations and stakeholders from across Washington to make change possible. Here are a few examples of what that looks like.

We’re proud of what we’ve been able to do in the 2021 legislative session, but we know there’s a lot of hard work ahead. As we all continue to continue to navigate, and recover from, a public health emergency, you can count on Washington STEM to seek out and act on policies that will equitably benefit Washington students.
For more detailed session review information and updates, visit www.washingtonstem.org/advocacy.