State Legislation Update: Two Bills and One New Law That Increase Access to Data

State Legislation Update: Two Bills and One New Law That Increase Access to Data

States are beginning to wrap up this year’s legislative sessions. 32 states including DC are still in regular session and 15 states have adjourned for the year. Another 11 states will adjourn by May 10. At this point, DQC is monitoring over 200 education and workforce data bills across 39 states. 

In this year’s state legislation update blog posts, we have highlighted bills that focus on increasing access to data, in line with DQC’s vision for data access. This month, we continue that focus with a spotlight on two new bills and a newly enacted law: 

  • Colorado’s HB 24-1403 requires the Colorado Department of Higher Education (DHE) and Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to enter into data-sharing agreements to ensure students experiencing homelessness get the financial support they need throughout their postsecondary journeys. These data-sharing agreements will allow the DHE to identify and support prospective students who qualify for financial assistance. The DHE would be required to designate a navigator to assist students through this process. This legislation is an example of how states can use data they already have to provide students with the supports and services they need to thrive and be successful in their postsecondary careers. 
  • Vermont’s H 707 establishes the Office of Workforce Expansion and Development and charges it with coordinating state workforce development, overseeing the State Workforce Development Board, and formulating comprehensive workforce education and training strategies. The bill would require state agencies to provide data and information to support the functions of the Workforce Board, Commissioner of Labor, and the newly established Office. This legislation would also require a report that includes a set of recommendations on use cases, an overview of existing workforce data, and a new data tool. State leaders need to have data about state workforce gaps, needs, and opportunities to inform decisionmaking. Legislation like this bill can establish clear roles and responsibilities for who oversees and leads workforce development efforts.
  • A new law in Washington (SB 6053) mandates data-sharing agreements between the Washington Student Achievement Council, institutions of higher education, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to facilitate the transfer of high school student directory information in order to inform students about their postsecondary education and financial aid opportunities. This law is another example of how states can use existing data to serve the needs of students in all aspects of their postsecondary journey, including financial aid needs. States must continue to explore ways to use data to improve education and workforce outcomes. 

An Update on Previous Bills

Last year, we highlighted proposed cross-agency data governance legislation in Massachusetts. While we were not able to report out the final outcome of the bill in last year’s legislation review since many states, including Massachusetts, have multi-year legislative sessions, this year, S.2666 and H.4421 have both made it out of the Senate and House Education Committees. Both bills have at least one more committee hearing before they go to the full Senate and House. This proposed legislation would codify cross-agency data governance in Massachusetts law, which is the most effective way to ensure that contributing state agencies come together for shared decisionmaking and that data governance efforts last across changes in state priorities and leadership.