Reps. Zeiger and Stambaugh introduce textbook cost-saving measures

Twenty-fifth District Reps. Hans Zeiger and Melanie Stambaugh have introduced legislation to address the increasing costs of textbooks for students in higher education.

Zeiger’s proposal, House Bill 1958, would cap textbook costs at $100 unless there is no lower-cost comparable alternative and no available substitute through open course materials.

“Students and their families are already burdened by high and growing tuition rates, so when they have to add exorbitantly-priced textbooks to their budgets, it can be overwhelming,” said Zeiger, R-Puyallup. “In an age when information flows quickly and freely, the Legislature should act promptly to control textbook costs and encourage the use of less expensive online alternatives like online open textbooks.”

Austin Wright-Pettibone, director of government relations at the Associated Students of the University of Washington, is supportive of the measure as textbooks add to the financial obligations of students.

“This bill starts important conversations about the high costs of textbooks, as well as some cost effective alternatives that are readily available. Students shouldn’t be forced to choose between buying their textbooks, and paying their rent. Textbooks can add hundreds of dollars onto a student’s bill every term. By encouraging the adoption of open access alternatives we can preserve the excellent instructional material already available while offering students a significantly cheaper option,” said Wright-Pettibone.

House Bill 1973, introduced by Stambaugh, would create an open educational resources pilot program at Eastern Washington University to reduce students’ costs.

“This bill is the product of collaboration with various stakeholders – students, faculty, administrators and universities across the country – looking at how to reduce the high costs that students incur in our higher education system,” said Stambaugh, R-Puyallup. “I am excited to begin this pilot program at Eastern Washington University, and look forward to the cost savings our students will experience and expanding this program to other four-year institutions in the state.”

Under the measure, EWU libraries would award up to ten grants per year to faculty members to develop or obtain open educational materials and resources. Eastern President Mary Cullinan is supportive of Stambaugh’s proposal.

“I’m delighted House Bill 1973 provides the opportunity for faculty to think creatively about what kinds of materials and experiences will really promote learning in a deeper way than a textbook might be able to offer,” said Cullinan. “This legislation gives faculty the opportunity to be inspirational and creative, and it gives the university the opportunity to help students reduce their costs. It’s really a win-win for everyone.”

The bills are currently in the House Higher Education Committee.


Washington State House Republican Communications