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Which state employees were the highest paid last year?

OLYMPIA – The University of Washington beat Washington State University in last year’s Apple Cup, and Husky head coach Chris Petersen’s team finished with a better record than Mike Leach’s Cougars.

But Leach was still ahead in one category: He topped the list of salaries received by state employees last year, at $2.75 million. Peterson came in second at $2.686 million, according to the latest salary information on all state employees.

Leach and Peterson don’t get their paychecks from taxpayers. Athletic salaries at both universities come from ticket sales and television revenues, but it’s funneled through the state. So the two football coaches, as usual, top the list of state salaries, followed by Husky basketball coach Lorenzo Romar at $1.13 million and WSU coach Ernie Kent at $1.05 million. Their total compensation packages in their contracts also may include things like insurance and pensions which aren't reflected in the state database. 

Scott Woodward, Husky athletic director, was fifth at almost $719,000. The late Elson Floyd, WSU president, was the highest paid non-athletic employee on the list. His $689,000 salary sandwiched him between Woodward and WSU athletic director Bill Moos.

The Top 10 slots are occupied by employees of one of the two research universities, and only one person in the top 100 is not connected to one of the two universities. That’s Gary Bruebaker, the chief investment officer for the state investment board, who comes in at $509,000. Board salaries aren’t paid by taxpayers, either, but from net investment earnings; they’re set based on a survey of other funds, so the state can attract investment professionals.

Many top-paid university employees are researchers whose work is supported by government or industry grants, and don’t come from tax funds or tuition. Like the athletic salaries, that money is channeled through the state and captured in the annual salary list. The grants often provide more to the institution or the state than just the researcher's salary.

Men are far more likely to be in the top salary ranks than women. Of the 36 state employees who make more than $400,000, seven are women, led by Johnese Spisso, a vice president at UW.

The salary figures are for 2014, so this year Spisso might be passed by Ana Marie Cauci, who was UW provost last year but was named interim president after Michael Young resigned in February to take a similar post at Texas A & M. Young made $600,750 last year in base salary; he’ll make a reported $1 million his first year at A&M.

Among the top 100 salaries – that’s just above $312,000 this year –19 went to women.

Among elected officials, the nine members of the state Supreme Court are the highest paid. They’re in a nine-way tie for 1,487th place with salaries of $169,188. That puts them a bit ahead of Gov. Jay Inslee, who makes $166,881, settling him in 1,557th place.

Salaries for state employees are public record, and published online by the state Office of Financial Management every year. For a database of state employee salaries – searchable by name or department – for the last four years, click here.

WSU and UW both get state money for Spokane medical school operations

Spokane's bid to become a medical education center got the boost it was looking for in the state budget.

Washington State University received the $2.5 million needed to begin establishing its own Spokane-based medical school and the University of Washington received the $9 million it sought to expand its existing physician training program here too.

“This is a major development that will significantly enhance our accreditation effort and, ultimately, help us produce more primary care doctors for under-served Washington,” WSU's acting Medical Sciences Dean Ken Roberts said. “We are very grateful."

WSU will use the two-year allocation to hire a dean, faculty members and develop curriculum for the new medical school, which is a necessary part of obtaining accreditation. The university wants to enroll its inaugural class of students in 2017.

The University of Washington, meanwhile, is pushing ahead with its planned Spokane expansion. The $9 million will enable UW School of Medicine to enroll 60 first-year and another 60 second-year students for a total of 120. Currently, its Spokane branch has 40 medical students per year.

The two universities used to be partners in the Spokane operation, which is a part of the UW medical school but operated in WSU facilities, but parted ways last year over disagreements about how best to address Washington's rural doctor shortage. The University of Washington is in discussions with Gonzaga University to serve as its new Spokane partner.

The UW's medical school provides physician training for five northwest states, including Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho in addition to Washington.

Establishment of a full medical school in Spokane, along with the research grants it would be expected to attract, is one of the region's top economic development goals. To help kickstart that, WSU has moved many of its health-related programs to the Spokane campus, including the pharmacy and nursing colleges.

Senate passes Elson Floyd Med School bill

OLYMPIA — The new medical school in Spokane would be named for Elson Floyd, the late Washington State University president who was its strongest champion, under a bill approved by the Senate today.

On a unanimous vote, the Senate agreed to amend the law it passed earlier this year that gives WSU the authority to operate a state-sponsored medical school. Prior to passing that law — an effort Floyd led as it worked its way through both chambers — only the University of Washington had the legal authority to offer physician education. 

If the bill is approved by the House and signed by the governor, the facility would be called the Elson S. Floyd School of Medicine.

McMorris Rodgers remembers Elson Floyd on House floor

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers joined the area lawmakers mourning the death of Washington State University President Elson Floyd in a speech delivered on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.

"He had the dream of making our dreams possible, and turning our aspirations into reality," McMorris Rodgers said.

You can watch the entire video of McMorris Rodgers' statement below.

 

This morning I spoke on the House floor in memory of WSU President Dr. Elson Floyd. Dr. Floyd was a giant for Eastern Washington. He embodied the values we seek in our leaders. He was visionary. He was kindhearted. And he was a fearless and passionate advocate for higher education, our region, and our state. It has been my privilege to know him and call him friend. Thank you, Elson, for your tireless work. Rest in peace.

Posted by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Thursday, June 25, 2015

What is a quantum computer?

Saturday's paper featured an article about mathematicians at WSU who may have developed the first encryption code capable of withstanding attack by quantum computers.

But if you're still trying to wrap you're head around quantum computing, join the crowd. I'm embedding a great general explainer produced by the science video blog Veritasium to help.

Don't be surprised if after watching it you're still a bit confused, though.

The late science fiction author Michael Crichton, a medical doctor whose science background enabled him to explain breakthroughs in easy-to-understand fictional adventures still resonating with readers today, once offered this simple observation: "Quantum technology turns ordinary reality upside down."

Crick in your neck? Move your tablet!

After hours of Hearthstone on your tablet computer, are you starting to feel a crick in your neck?

Researchers at Washington State University say tablet users experience neck muscle strain at levels up to 3 to 5 times greater than when sitting with the head in a neutral position, like glancing at a desktop computer monitor.

Anita Vasavada, associate professor of chemical engineering and bioengineering at WSU, published the results in the February issue of the journal Ergonomics. She and a research team studied the tablet use of 33 people, including students and faculty, at a laboratory in Pullman. They used x-rays to determine the curvature of the spine when users typed and read on tablets in several different positions, including allowing the user to pick how they held the tablet. 

Muscle strain was most severe when users typed on the tablet as it sat in their lap. It was least severe when the tablets were propped up to the highest angle using the Smart Cover stand produced by Apple, but researchers did not test multiple brands of tablet accessories. 

To the surprise of researchers, there was no noticeable difference in muscle strain between men and women in the group. Past research has shown women are at greater risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders, according to the WSU researchers.

Vasavada and the researchers note the sample size is small, but the laboratory findings could go a long way in introducing ergonomic guidelines for tablet use. A booming industry of ergonomic keyboards, desks, chairs and other accessories has already developed for desktop computers.

The Tech Deck's advice? It's probably best to take a break between hourlong card battle bouts, anyway.

WaLeg Week 10: Back to the committees

Monday, March 16, 2015
Time Committee Location
9:55 AM PRO FORMA HOUSE SESSION  
10:00 AM Government Operations & Security (S) Senate Hearing Rm 2
  Health Care (S) Senate Hearing Rm 4
  Human Services, Mental Health & Housing (S) Senate Hearing Rm 1
12:00 PM PRO FORMA SENATE SESSION  
1:30 PM Early Learning & K-12 Education (S) Senate Hearing Rm 1
  Law & Justice (S) Senate Hearing Rm 4
  Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs (H) House Hearing Rm E
  Commerce & Gaming (H) House Hearing Rm C
  Education (H) House Hearing Rm A
  Environment (H) House Hearing Rm B
3:30 PM Transportation (S) Senate Hearing Rm 1
  Appropriations (H) House Hearing Rm A
  Transportation (H) House Hearing Rm B

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House Committees


Appropriations
3/16/15 3:30 pm
House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm A
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:
  1. SB 5210 - Authorizing an optional life annuity benefit for members of the Washington state patrol retirement system.
  2. 2SSB 5215 - Establishing the Washington internet crimes against children account.
  3. SB 5466 - Clarifying employee eligibility for benefits from the public employees' benefits board and conforming the eligibility provisions with federal law.
  4. SB 5468 - Authorizing the use of nonappropriated funds on certain administrative costs and expenses of the stay-at-work and self-insured employer programs.
  5. SB 5693 - Authorizing the department of social and health services special commitment center to seek eligibility and reimbursement for health care costs covered by federal medicare, medicaid, and veterans health benefits.
  6. SSB 5999 - Addressing the caseload forecast council.
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Commerce & Gaming
3/16/15 1:30 pm
Watch on TVWHouse Full Committee
House Hearing Rm C
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:
  1. HB 1645 - Concerning youth substance use prevention associated with tobacco and drug delivery e-cigarettes and vapor products.
  2. ESSB 5477 - Requiring substances intended for use in a vapor product to satisfy child-resistant effectiveness standards, adopting warning standards, and prohibiting the use of vapor products in schools.
  3. SSB 5012 - Authorizing the growing of industrial hemp.
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Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs
3/16/15 1:30 pm
House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm E
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:
  1. SB 5164 - Concerning transient lodging for military service members in armories.
  2. SB 5171 - Concerning the definition of veteran for the purposes of the county veterans assistance fund.
  3. SSB 5633 - Creating a coordinator for the helmets to hardhats program in the department of veterans affairs.
  4. SB 5958 - Providing for representation of the state veterans' homes on the governor's veterans affairs advisory committee.
  5. SJM 8008 - Calling for a National Guard Stryker Brigade stationed on the west coast.
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Education
3/16/15 1:30 pm
House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm A
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session: Shortage of Substitute Teachers.

Public Hearing:
  1. SB 5941 - Concerning certification of adjunct faculty as common school substitute teachers.
  2. SB 5120 - Concerning school district dissolutions.
  3. ESSB 5316 - Concerning privacy and security of personally identifiable student information.
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Environment
3/16/15 1:30 pm
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Labor*
3/16/15 1:30 pm
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Transportation
3/16/15 3:30 pm
House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:
  1. SB 5307 - Concerning deficit reimbursement agreements with counties owning and operating ferry systems.
  2. SSB 5362 - Concerning the regulation of passenger charter and excursion carriers.
  3. ESB 5416 - Concerning service fees on vessel-related transactions.
  4. SSB 5438 - Allowing bicycles and mopeds to stop and proceed through traffic control signals under certain conditions.
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Senate Committees

The schedule is subject to the addition of more committee agendas. Please check our website, http://www.leg.wa.gov/legislature/pages/calendar.aspx
 
Early Learning & K-12 Education*
3/16/15 1:30 pm
Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 3/13/2015 1:52 PM

Public Hearing:
  1. SGA 9102 - Dennis W Mathews, Member, Board of Trustees, State School for the Blind.
  2. SGA 9048 - Michelle Farrell, Member, Board of Trustees, State School for the Blind.
  3. E2SHB 1541 - Implementing strategies to close the educational opportunity gap, based on the recommendations of the educational opportunity gap oversight and accountability committee.
  4. SHB 1295 - Concerning breakfast after the bell programs.
  5. ESHB 1495 - Enacting the student user privacy in education rights act.
  6. SHB 1570 - Creating flexibility for the educator retooling conditional scholarship program.
  7. SHB 1031 - Expanding participation in college in the high school programs.

Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.
 
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Government Operations & Security
3/16/15 10:00 am
Watch on TVWSenate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 2
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:
  1. SHB 1085 - Requiring lobbying reports to be filed electronically.
  2. EHB 1123 - Regulating the minimum dimensions of habitable spaces in single-family residential areas.
  3. SHB 1382 - Addressing the delivery of basic firefighter training and testing.
  4. SHB 1313 - Granting fire protection districts and regional fire protection service authorities biennial budget authority.
  5. HB 1317 - Revising the lien for collection of sewer charges by counties.
  6. HB 1561 - Concerning the consideration of information technology security matters.
  7. HB 1560 - Recognizing the thirty-first of March as Cesar Chavez Day.

Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.
 
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Health Care 
3/16/15 10:00 am
Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:
  1. HB 1339 - Allowing the secretary of health to intercede and stay any decision of a disciplining authority that expands scope of practice.
  2. SHB 1625 - Concerning provision of drugs to ambulance or aid services.
  3. SHB 1667 - Establishing the bleeding disorder collaborative for care.
  4. SHB 1727 - Modifying the definition of health care facility relating to nursing assistants' practice settings.
  5. SHB 1002 - Prohibiting unfair and deceptive dental insurance practices.
  6. SHB 1132 - Concerning the regulation of adult family homes.

Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.
 
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Human Services, Mental Health & Housing*
3/16/15 10:00 am
Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 3/13/2015 9:31 AM

Public Hearing:
  1. ESHB 1126 - Concerning department of early learning fatality reviews.
  2. 2SHB 1735 - Concerning extended foster care services.
  3. ESHB 1875 - Concerning the definition of work activity for the purposes of the WorkFirst program.
  4. SHB 1319 - Making technical corrections to processes for persons sentenced for offenses committed prior to reaching eighteen years of age.
  5. HB 1599 - Concerning secure facilities for the criminally insane.

Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.
 
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Law & Justice*
3/16/15 1:30 pm
Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 3/12/2015 2:42 PM

Public Hearing:
  1. E2SHB 1272 - Concerning the crime of disclosing intimate images.
  2. SHB 2160 - Concerning the distribution of intimate images.
  3. SHB 1617 - Concerning the use of the judicial information system by courts before granting certain orders.
  4. SHB 1248 - Concerning court proceedings.
  5. HB 1943 - Concerning home detention.
  6. SHB 1068 - Concerning sexual assault examination kits.
  7. EHB 1632 - Concerning domestic violence.

Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.
 
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Transportation
3/16/15 3:30 pm
Watch on TVWSenate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:
  1. SGA 9074 - Roy Jennings, Member, Transportation Commission.
  2. SGA 9180 - Joe M Tortorelli, Member, Transportation Commission.
  3. HB 1222 - Modifying certain firefighting apparatus length and weight limits.
  4. EHB 1087 - Concerning automated traffic safety cameras in school speed zones.
  5. SHB 1159 - Establishing a pilot program requiring certain drivers under eighteen years of age to display a decal on a vehicle being operated by the driver.
  6. SHB 1480 - Creating intermittent-use trailer license plates.
  7. SHB 1738 - Concerning marine, off-road recreational vehicle, and snowmobile fuel tax refunds based on actual fuel taxes paid.

Work Session: WTP 2035 - Washington Transportation Plan - WA Transportation Commission.

Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.
 
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Senate committees begin to take up bills the House passed, and vice versa. Among those to watch: The House Environment Committee will take up an oil transportation bill that environmentalists hate and the oil industry prefers Monday, and the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecom Committee will take up an oil transportation bill that the oil industry hates and environmentalists prefer Wednesday.

Look for other clashes of political will throughout the week. Here's Monday's schedule: 

 

Sunday Spin: What really happened in 1917 for med schools?

OLYMPIA – Spend any time listening to the debate over proposals to let Washington State University open its own medical school in Spokane and you will hear about the competing big university on the other side of the state having a nearly 100-year-old monopoly on doctor training.

A 1917 law is denounced as antiquated, outmoded and waaaay too 19th Century for our 21st Century medical needs, by folks who sometimes talk as if they were around for the vote. But it’s not exactly true that the Legislature thought deeply about medical schools 98 years ago when it passed that law.

That Legislature was trying to settle a huge turf war between the University of Washington and what was then known as Washington State College, not get a med school started.

To get a feel of how bad this inter-scholastic fight was, one need only read news accounts of how it was settled. After spending much of the early weeks of the 1917 session lobbying for expanding programs on their campus – and taking them away from the other institution – WSC President Ernest Holland and UW President Henry Suzzallo were summoned to the governor’s office on the evening of Feb. 1, presented with a compromise weary legislators had worked out, and apparently not given a chance to object.

Chances are state leaders’ patience was wearing thin. The country was in an uproar trying to figure out when, rather than if, the United States was going to go to war with Germany – which it would exactly two months later. Olympia, too, was more than a tad unsettled because a disgruntled logger had shot and killed the Industrial Insurance Commissioner Edward Olson earlier that day over a rejected injury claim.

On Feb. 2, the House and Senate both passed the bill that divided up the majors for the two schools. Unanimously.

“Collectively, the assembly heaved a sigh of relief when it was over,” J.W. Gilbert, a reporter for the Seattle Post Intelligencer wrote the next day, calling the bill “the most notable achievement of the session." The presidents held something of a luncheon press conference to answer questions and make nice in front of reporters. Gilbert described them as “felicitating each other” – which is a term that I would love to use someday if I thought I could get it past my editors.

In divvying up majors, the Legislature gave law, architecture, journalism and aeronautic engineering, among others, to UW. WSC got veterinary medicine and almost anything related to agriculture and “rural life.” Both could teach liberal arts, pure science, education and several other engineering majors.

Those were the majors that generated the most public attention, based on press reports. A medical school wasn’t even mentioned in the news accounts.

The new law had a separate section requiring “work and instruction in medicine, when introduced or developed, should be taught at the University of Washington exclusively.”

The “when-introduced-and-developed clause” is interesting now, because UW went almost 30 years before getting the go-ahead from the Legislature for a medical school. In 1945, as another World War was ending, the Legislature voted to give UW regents $450,000 for salaries to establish “forthwith” schools of medicine and dentistry, and $3.75 million for a building to put those students in. Just for reference, the entire payroll for the U was about $6 million, so this was a substantial investment.

The Legislature set the tuition at $100 per quarter for students from Washington and the Alaska territories and $165 per quarter for all other students. They also were assessed fees of $25 for locals and Alaskans, and $75 for all others, to help pay off the medical and dental building.

The precedent of that time gap is something WSU officials should note as the current medical school bills give them the permission to start a medical school, but not the money to do so, just as the Legislature did in 1917 for UW.

But it is from that 1945 legislative action that the UW’s “monopoly” on medical education grows.

It’s not a 21st Century model, but unlike some descriptions of the legislative history of the monopoly, it’s more mid-20th than 19th Century.

By the way…

One other comment on the medical school discussions: A proponent said during the House debate bill last week that doctors were using leeches to treat patients in 1917 when the old law was passed. Another admitted that in previous discussion he suggested doctors back then didn’t wash their hands before treating patients.

Generally speaking, not true in either case. They did not have courses on the use of antibiotics, but they didn’t learn incantations and spells from witch doctors, either.

Inslee: Not putting roadblocks in way of WSU med school

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee implied Thursday he will sign a bill giving Washington State University the permission to start its own medical school in Spokane. But he made clear that funding decisions in the budget still remain.

At a brief press conference, Inslee said he wouldn't contest the likely legislative decision to give WSU that authority. Earlier this week, the House and Senate passed identical bills giving WSU that permission by rewriting a 1917 law that says only the University of Washington can operate a medical school.

In the past, Inslee has refused to comment on the controversy between the two universities over expanding medical school education in Spokane, where WSU jointly operated an established program with UW until last year.

"I'm not putting any roadblocks in the way of the legislative decision," Inslee said when asked if he'd sign the bill when a final version comes to him.

But that legislation has no price tag attached, so another decision will have to be made by by legislative budget writers on whether to provide WSU the $2.5 million it is seeking to attain accreditation for the new school. That's part of a bigger question of how does the state pay for increased medical education, Inslee said.

"That's the next task at hand," he said.

House passes WSU med school bill

OLYMPIA — Washington State University would be able to start its own medical school in Spokane under a bill that passed the House late Monday.

On a 81-17 vote, the House approved and sent to the Senate legislation that gives WSU the permission, but not the money, to open a medical school on the Riverpoint Campus. Decisions on how much to spend, and when, will be made later in the budget. The Senate has its own version pending.

The bill would repeal a law that dates to 1917 when the Legislature divided up major lines of study for the two major universities and said only the University of Washington could have a medical school. That law is archaic, Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, said.

"In 1917, I think they were using leeches to cure folks," Riccelli, the bill's prime sponsor, said. "We have a growing need for in our state (for doctors) that we are not meeting."

Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, said the bill generate a conversation about what health care and medical education should be like in the 21st and 22nd centuries, and will touch every corner of the state

"It should not be an either-or conversation" that pits the two universities and their supporters against each other on medical schools, Parker said. 

Supporters of the bill fought back an effort by Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, to delay a decision for a year while the need for more physicians and other medical professionals, and the best ways to fill it, is studied before starting down a road that could have a $40 million annual appropriation at the end of it.

"We already know what the study's going to tell us," Rep. Drew Hansen, chairman of the House Higher Education Committee said. A new medical school may be below expanded medical residencies, programs to repay school loans, and expanding the University of Washington's medical school, he added, but "all of those priorities we will deal with in the budget."

The House also rejected an amendment from Pollet that would require WSU to repay all money that it had been given for its part in the multi-state training program for medical students it operated in conjunction with UW until last year. That program is known as WWAMI, for the states involved: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho.

"Let WWAMI be WWAMI" Pollet said. "Let WSU ask for new money if it's going to start a new medical school."

That's also an an issue to be worked out in the budget, Hansen argued before that amendment was defeated on a voice vote.

The bill received yes votes from all members from the Spokane area from both parties. One possible concern n for supporters of the bill, however, were the legislators who voted no on the proposal along with Pollet: House Speaker Frank Chopp, Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter, Finance Committee Chairman Reuven Carlyle, Capital Budget Committee Chairman Hans Dunshee and Health Care Committee Chairwoman Eileen Cody.

 

 

WALeg: Keeping it clean…on the med school bill

OLYMPIA – A bill to give Washington State University permission to start its own medical school might seem like a locomotive sitting at the station, ready to steam down the track. After all, it’s got two-thirds of the state House of Representatives as co-sponsors.

Now supporters must work to keep extra cars from being attached to that train.

Since the start of the session, supporters have pursued a two-step process through the Legislature for a medical school WSU wants to start on its Spokane campus. First, change a law passed in 1917 that says the University of Washington is the only state-funded institution that can offer medicine as a major field of study and give that authority to WSU as well. After that’s done, seek money in the budget to start that process.

“This is strictly about the policy,” said Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, prime sponsor of a bill to remove a section of state law.

Similar bills have worked through committees in each chamber with 65 co-sponsors in the House and 17 in the Senate. But popularity comes with a price.

The House bill has such strong support that many legislators consider it sure to pass and want to add something to it, Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, said Tuesday. He’s not ready to concede it is a sure thing and argues if anything gets added to fairly simple legislation, it is likely to lose support and have less chance of passing.

In committee hearings, Riccelli has fought off an effort to require the Legislature to set aside more than $33 million for other proposals to increase the number of doctors in the state before WSU can start a med school. He also got a Seattle legislator to drop a proposed amendment requiring the new school to ensure students being trained at a Catholic hospital would get training in birth control and abortion procedures by getting a written promise from WSU officials that such instruction would occur.

“We want a clean bill,” Riccelli said.

More amendments could surface before the bill comes up for a floor debate, including one that would limit noncompete clauses physicians can be required to sign when being hired at hospitals, clinics or medical corporations. House Finance Committee Chairman Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, may introduce such an amendment to keep WSU and UW from putting onerous noncompete restrictions on faculty they hire so they can’t move back and forth between institutions.

“If we’re going to have two medical schools practically next to each other in Spokane, I want them cooperating with each other, not competing with each other,” Carlyle said of the two universities.

On Tuesday, he discussed the amendment with Riccelli and Ormsby, who tried to persuade him not to push that change to the bill.

House Bill 1559 has no money attached to it, said Ormsby, who serves as vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Giving WSU the money it says it needs to obtain accreditation for the med school will be a separate decision to be made in the budget. Carlyle’s concerns may be valid, but they should come up in budget discussions, he said.

Giving WSU regents the permission to seek accreditation for a medical school is tantamount to starting the school, Carlyle argued. “It’s like being pregnant,” he said; if the bill passes, the baby will show up eventually.

No, countered Ormsby; giving WSU the money in the budget means a new med school baby will show up eventually. He agreed the noncompete clauses are a problem, and said he might support Carlyle’s effort to limit them with language in the budget.

An amendment already filed for the bill would remove all restrictions on the majors the two universities could offer. Two amendments have been filed that would slow or derail the new med school. One would require any money appropriated for UW’s multistate physician education program in Spokane “be used for the original purpose,” which means WSU wouldn’t be able to use money or facilities originally set aside for its now-defunct joint venture.

The other wouldn’t let WSU spend any money originally set aside for the UW-led program in Spokane until a state board studied the need for more doctors and other health care professionals in Washington and determined the best way to fill them. The study would be due in December.

Just because amendments are filed doesn’t mean they automatically get a vote. When the bill was being considered by the House Appropriations Committee, the chairman there had drafted an amendment that set down three financial requirements to be met before WSU could set up a medical school: The state would have to set aside $16 million to develop more residencies in family practice and $8.3 million for scholarships and loan repayments of key specialties, and give UW $9.4 million to support 120 students at its program in Spokane.

Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, withdrew the amendment before the bill came to a vote, but House Higher Education Committee Chairman Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, and a member of the budget committee, said he considers the three issues those dollar amounts represent to be higher priorities for increasing the number of doctors in Eastern Washington than a new med school operated by WSU.

The bill moved easily through the budget committee, and Riccelli said he believes the proposal has even stronger support in the full House. But only in its current form.

Med school bill passes House budget committee

OLYMPIA – The prospects for a new medical school operated by Washington State University took a step forward late Friday evening as a key c committee approved a bill that would change law to make that possible.

Possible, but not mandatory.

On a 24-9 vote, the House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would change a law on the books since 1917 that says a medical school can only be operated by the University of Washington. But even some legislators who voted yes said it was, at best, only a partial solution to calls for more doctors in the state.

“Creating a new medical school, by itselve, does not solve the need for physicians in Eastern Washington,” Appropriations Chairman Ross Hunter said.

Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, put the new medical school fourth on the list of priorities for more getting more doctors in rural areas, _ behind expanding the number of graduate medical residencies in those areas, repaying loans of new doctors willing to practice there and expanding the UW medical school program in Spokane.

But Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, called the bill a big step in the finding a solution. Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, the bill’s sponsor, said after the vote that said it moved the proposed medical school a bit farther down a long road, and was accomplished without any amendments that could derail the project.

The committee vote clears the way for a full vote of the House later in the session. The bill has 65 co-sponsors in the 98 member chamber.

WALeg Day 45: House budget writers question med school costs

OLYMPIA — House budget writers struggled with the costs of training more doctors to serve parts of the state as a bill to let Washington State University start a Spokane medical school continued the long path through the hearing process.

WSU officials said they continue to support University of Washington's multi-state training program, known as WWAMI, although they think the state needs a second medical school. UW officials say they don't oppose WSU efforts provided WWAMI receives the $4.9 million to train the 40 medical students due to start in Spokane in August. 

The two universities ended their partnership over WWAMI — which stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, the five states in the system — last fall and are still negotiating how to divide money and other assets assigned to the Riverpoint campus. Legislators have warned recently that they will settle the dispute if the universities don't.

"Of course we're trying to negotiate, but ultimately it's your decision," Ian Goodhew, a representative of UW Medicine told the House Appropriations Committee.

But the bill before the committee has no price tag attached, and budget analysts could only say cost estimates vary for what would happen if the Legislature removed a state law that says only the University of Washington can operate a state-sponsored medical school. That would allow WSU to move forward with plans to seek accreditation for a new medical school.

It really just starts a conversation on how to increase medical education in Spokane, Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, said.

"It's an outdated law that created a monopoly," Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane said, adding he supports expanding WWAMI in Spokane as well as starting the new medical school

But the law, that dates to 1917, creates several monopolies for the universities, including veterinary medicine for WSU.

"Why aren't we just getting rid of the entire statute and getting rid of all the monopolies?" Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, asked.

That's beyond the scope of this particular bill, Riccelli said.

Committee Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said he'd like to see more budget figures before the panel votes on the bill.

WALeg Day 44: Budget panel OKs med school bill, warns WSU and UW

OLYMPIA – With warnings to the state’s two largest universities to work out their disputes, Senate budget writers approved a change in the law that would give Washington State University permission to start its own medical school in Spokane.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee unanimously voted to support a bill that would change a law giving the University of Washington the sole authority to operate a state medical school. WSU would have the authority to start a second school on its Spokane campus, but the bill has no money attached.

The committee discussed, but ultimately dropped, an amendment to have the Legislature step in if the two universities don’t resolve conflicts over money and buildings the state has provided for the five-state WWAMI program in Spokane. Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, said the bill is only about changing an out-dated and leaves spending up to the Legislature at some future date.

Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, a budget committee member who heads the Health Care Committee, said she supports another medical school and agreed “grudgingly” to withdraw the amendment. But she admonished university officials.

“All of us on this committee want this worked out,” she said. “You don’t want us to work it out.”

Senate panel calls for audit of WWAMI

OLYMPIA – University of Washington”s multi-state medical school program should be audited as the Legislature decides how to expand it in Spokane, a Senate committee said Thursday.

At the end of a sometimes contentious hearing over UW plans to expand the number of medical students it has in Spokane, the Senate Health Care Committee added a requirement for a full audit legislative financial experts of the a multi-state medical training program that involves Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho and goes by the acronym WWAMI.

"There's a lot we don't know about how WWAMI funding works," said Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, adding there's a possibility that Washington is subsidizing other states in the program.

Ian Goodhew, director of government relations for UW Medicine, said the other states pay for their students’ slots in the program and the Legislature can pay for more slots for Washington residents. The Spokane branch of WWAMI will start a class of 40 students in the fall, and eventually will grow that number to 120 per year if the Legislature approves. The bill calls for the program to grow to that level “as quickly as practical.”

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle,  sponsored the bill to direct UW medical school expansion in Spokane, and agreed to support the amendment.

“It’s been around for 40 years,” Frockt said of WWAMI. “I don't think it's needed, but I understand the concern,” 

Until last fall, UW and Washington State University had a partnership to operate WWAMI at the Riverpoint Campus in Spokane. After WSU announced plans to start its own medical school in Spokane, UW said it would look for a new partner, and is in negotiations with Gonzaga University. The two universities now disagree on how to split state funding from the joint program.

Frockt's original bill called for WSU to transfer to UW all money and building space the state has approved for WWAMI in Spokane. Baumgartner, the primary sponsor of separate legislation that would give WSU the authority to start its own medical school, said the some of those facilities were built in part with WSU's bonding authority and wouldn't be appropriate to transfer.

“It would have been nice for all  of us for the two entities to have had a good pre-nup before the divorce took place,” said Frockt, who agreed to an amendment taking out the section involving the transfer of money and building space. 

The universities initially said they would complete a memorandum of understanding on issues including money and facilities before the session started, but that is still being negotiated. UW officials said Wednesday afternoon they submitted an offer last month and hadn’t heard back. Wednesday night, WSU offered to transfer $1.9 million to UW, which it said is the amount being spent to instruct WWAMI students, and a five-year lease on lab space on the Spokane campus at rate based on actual cost.

At one point in Thursday’s hearing, Baumgartner said the bill “was not a good faith effort” to address the issue of expanded medical education in Spokane. It has no Spokane-area sponsors, he said, and local legislators are the best judges of how to negotiate a Spokane issue.

“I take exception to my sponsoring a bill not in good faith,” Frockt replied. “All I've ever said, from the time of this whole issue coming forward, is there's a way to do both the (WSU) medical school and the WWAMI expansion and that's what this is about.”

A representative of Greater Spokane Incorporated told the committee the area's combined Chamber of Commerce and economic development organization supported both, he added.

The bill was sent to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which on Wednesday looked at Baumgartner's bill to change state law and give WSU the ability to start a medical school. That bill has no price tag, but the committee said it wanted a closer look at the long-term costs and the best way to expand the number of medical professionals in the state.

UW, WSU med school fight compared to squabbling children

OLYMPIA – The Legislature should not have to be forced to act like a parent to settle a fight between children in the dispute between the state’s two largest universities over medical education in Spokane, a key senator said Wednesday.

Sen. Andy Hill, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, expressed frustration with last fall’s breakup of the partnership between the University of Washington and Washington State University for existing medical education in Spokane.

WSU President Elson Floyd had told the committee his institution was willing to continue the partnership over the multistate WWAMI program in Spokane while developing its own medical school. UW decided to “seek another partner … the decision rests with them,” he said.

Ian Goodhew, director of government relations for UW Medicine, said the University of Washington “wanted a partner that was committed to the partnership.” But he told the committee the decision to end the partnership was mutual.

“Others may have a different interpretation,” he said. “I don’t agree.”

So the two universities decided to split up first and come to the Legislature second, Hill said.

“Now the Legislature has to become the parent in this dispute.”

The committee, which is charged with writing the budget for the two universities, had tough questions for both schools on their cost estimates to increase the number of slots for medical students in Spokane. Ken Roberts, acting dean of medical education at WSU, estimated each medical student would cost the state about $60,000. WSU hopes to build up to 120 students per year in a four-year program, which would have a price tag of about $25 million over the next decade. There aren’t any large capital costs because so much is already in place at the WSU Spokane campus, he and Floyd said.

But 120 students a year at $60,000 is about $7 million, so over 10 years that’s $70 million, Hill countered. WSU would start at 40 students and build up to 120, Roberts said; it would be up to the Legislature to determine how fast the program grows.

UW officials said they don’t object to WSU starting its own medical school as long as the Legislature follows the Hippocratic Oath toward the current school.

“First, do no harm,” Goodhew and other UW supporters repeated in making the case for the existing school to be given a total of $5.9 million that was funneled through WSU for WWAMI at various times since 1979.

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, questioned UW’s math on what it believes it is owed from past spending on WWAMI in Spokane and the cost of continuing its program separately from WSU. Goodhew had said the students cost the state about $50,000 each. Next year there will be 80 WWAMI students in Spokane – 40 first-year and 40 second-year students – and that’s less than $5.9 million, Billig said.

The legislation the committee is considering has no price attached to it. It would amend state law to allow WSU to start a medical school. Rich Hadley, the former president of Greater Spokane Incorporated who now leads a local group advocating for a WSU medical school, said Washington is too big of a state to give one university a monopoly on medical education.

Floyd said the best way to meet a growing need for doctors in Washington, particularly outside the metropolitan Seattle area, is with a community-based medical school WSU wants to set up in conjunction with local hospitals.

“We are not seeking to build another university hospital,” he said.

Genesee Adkins, a spokeswoman for UW, said the best way is to grow the WWAMI program in Spokane from 40 students per year now to 120 students per year over a short period of time. “We absolutely agree there’s a need for more capacity in the state.”

UW will get a chance to explain its plans for expanded medical education today during a hearing on a separate bill in the Senate Health Care Committee.

Hill, R-Redmond, said he’s not sure the answer is more doctors, because of advances in telemedicine and training for other health care professionals.

“We want to make sure that assumption is correct. We need data to back that up.”

WSU med school bills hit detour

OLYMPIA — Bills that would give Washington State University the authority to start a medical school in Spokane, which last week seemed on the fast track, have hit a legislative detour.

The House and Senate budget committees will  hold hearings on the costs  of a proposed medical school before legislative leaders will allow full votes in either chamber.

Supporters of the project said today it's not a roadblock, but bill sponsors are surprised that legislation specifically rewritten to leave funding questions for later will need approval from the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees before facing full votes in each chamber.

"We certainly hope the bill doesn't get caught up in overall budget negotiations," Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, said.

Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, said the bills were written to split the discussion over a new medical school in Spokane. The current bills focused on rewriting state law that to give WSU the authority to offer that education; the amount of money the state would provide for the school would be decided later. State law currently restricts medical education to UW. The law, which has its roots in the Legislature settling a fight over education majors for the two institutions in 1917, is antiquated, Riccelli and Baumgartner both argue.

Companion bills in each chamber were amended to remove language that directs the WSU regents to start a school, and last week passed out of each chamber's Higher Education Committee with directions to go to the group that schedules bills for a vote of the full chamber.

The University of Washington has raised questions about past spending for its medical school program in Spokane that was funneled through WSU when both schools were involved in the program. But that's not the reason the bills were referred to budget committees, sources said.

The nonpartisan legal counsel for the Senate Ways and Means Committee said that panel should hold a hearing on the proposal because of the long-term budget implications, Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said. That committee, where a third of the members are co-sponsors of the Senate version of the bill, scheduled a hearing on the bill for tomorrow

"I'm sure the medical school will stand on its own merits," said Schoesler, who is a co-sponsor of the bill and a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

The House Appropriations Committee Chairman Ross Hunter, D-Medina, said there's nothing unusual about a bill being routed through the budget committee even though it has no price tag attached. 

"This is a bill that in essence creates an empty bucket… a new opportunity to spend money," Hunter said. "All bills that look like this come to Appropriations. It's a policy bill that results in spending tens of millions of dollars."

WSU officials have said they will ask for $2.5 million in the 2015-17 budget to seek accreditation for the school, but if the school is approved they will be seeking millions in state support for medical students. UW is seeking $8 million in the coming two-year budget for its medical students in Spokane.

Hunter, who described himself as neutral on the WSU med school, isn't sure when his committee will hold a hearing on the House version of the bill. When it does, however, he expects supporters to address some of the other issues around the shortage of physicians in Eastern Washington and some other rural areas. He's particularly concerned about the level of training beyond medical school, the residencies that will train those graduates in primary care and family medicine and some experts say are the key to getting more doctors in under-served areas.

"It is way more complicated than the supporters or opponents (of the medical school) will tell you," Hunter said. 

Inslee on WSU med school bills: No promises, no threats

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee continued to hedge on his preference for expanded medical education in Spokane, saying today he wouldn't promise to sign or threaten to veto bills that would give WSU legal authority to start its own med school.

Bills that would change state law that says only the University of Washington can have a medical school moved out of the Senate and House higher education committees with strong support this week. The Senate committee voted unanimously to send it for a vote in the full chamber and the House committee sent its version out on a 12-1 vote.

Votes on the bills — which have no state money attached — are expected in the full chambers in the coming weeks. 

"It's clear that it has a lot of support in the Legislature," Inslee said at a press conference. "I'll be talking with legislators, if that in fact becomes the majority view in both chambers, about making sure that we can find a way to finance it."

UW is seeking $8 million to expand its medical school program, known as WWAMI for the five Northwest states it serves. WSU is seeking $2.5 million to seek accreditation for a new school based on what it calls a community-based model. Inslee's proposed budget for the 2015-17 biennium is silent on money for medical schools in Spokane, and legislators say the budget decisions are likely to be made late in the session.

Senate Higher Ed panel also OKs WSU med school bill

OLYMPIA — Washington State University's plans for a  medical school in Spokane took a second step forward today as a Senate panel passed the bill adding that authority to state law.

Like its House counterpart this morning, the Senate Higher Education Committee approved giving WSU the authority to start its own medical school by changing a state law that restricts physicians' education to the University of Washington. 

The vote was unanimous, but discussions made clear that the real challenge to WSU's dreams of a Spokane medical school will hinge on reaching an agreement on funding that doesn't detract from UW's program, which goes by WWAMI, the acronym for the five Northwest states involved.  

An amendment by Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, would have required that UW receive money it says the Legislature set aside for WWAMI students in Spokane but was appropriated for WSU. The two universities disagree on that amount, but the top figure of $5.9 million represents a relatively small amount in the state's two year operating budget, which is more than $37 billion, Frockt said.

"I think the entire UW-WSU medical school situation can be worked out," he said.

Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, who sponsored the bill to give WSU authority to start a med school agreed. But the place to work that out is in the budget committee, he said. 

The committee rejected Frockt's amendment on a 3-4 partisan vote, then voted unanimously to move to the full Senate a change in the state law that restricts medical school education to UW. But not before a warning to the two schools and their supporters from Committee Chairwoman Barbara Bailey:

"This is the message I've been sending relentlessly ever sinc the beginning — that we work this out."Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, said.

WALeg Day 26: Action on med school bill delayed

OLYMPIA — A committee vote on a bill to allow Washington State University to start its own medical school was delayed this morning until next Tuesday.

Committee Chairman Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, cancelled all action on bills that have already had hearings so the panel could take testimony on bills that haven't.

HB 1559, which would change state law that only allows the University of Washington to offer medical education, was on the list of bills that would get a vote on whether to be sent to the full House. The medical school bill had four possible amendments the committee pending from Vice Chairman Jerry Pollett, D-Seattle, that involved studying ways to address the causes of the doctor shortage in some parts of Washington or banning WSU from using any money originally appropriated for the UW multi-state medical education program in Spokane. 

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, said there is a minor rewrite that changes some language in the bill to say WSU board of regents may start a medical school rather than it must. But he expects the Pollett amendments won't be approved by the committee and the bill will move to the full House, where it has 64 others signed on as co-sponsors.

Action on the bill is tentatively scheduled for the committee's hearing at 8 a.m. Tuesday.

WALeg Day 16: WSU med school bill gets hearing today

OLYMPIA — A bill that would give Washington State University the authority to have its own medical school gets a hearing in the House Higher Education Committee this morning.

There's no money attached to the bill. This is a policy bill that would change a law dating to 1917 that divvied up major areas of study between the two universities. Medical education eventually went to the University of Washington and WSU would need the law amended to start its own med school.

Also up for discussion today around the Capitol are election law changes that would allow voters to fax or e-mail in their ballots and another that would require fiscal impact statements for ballot measures. The House Environment Committee has a hearing on Gov. Jay Inslee's cap and trade proposal.  House Agriculture Committee continues its hearing into a possible ban on selling ivory and rhinoceros horns. House Commerce and Gaming has several bills involving changes in the state's alcohol laws and one on legalizing industrial hemp,.Senate Higher Education has a session on preventing sexual assault on campuses.

Here's the full hearing schedule: 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Time

Committee

Location

 

8:00 AM

Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 3

 
 

Law & Justice (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 4

 
 

Business & Financial Services (H)

House Hearing Rm B

 
 

Early Learning & Human Services (H)

House Hearing Rm E

 
 

Health Care & Wellness (H)

House Hearing Rm A

 
 

Higher Education (H)

House Hearing Rm C

 
 

Public Safety (H)

House Hearing Rm D

 

9:55 AM

PRO FORMA HOUSE SESSION

   

10:00 AM

Government Operations & State Security (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 2

 
 

Health Care (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 4

 
 

Human Services, Mental Health & Housing (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 1

 
 

Agriculture & Natural Resources (H)

House Hearing Rm B

 
 

Judiciary (H)

House Hearing Rm A

 
 

Local Government (H)

House Hearing Rm D

 
 

State Government (H)

House Hearing Rm E

 
 

Technology & Economic Development (H)

House Hearing Rm C

 

12:00 PM

SENATE SESSION

   

1:30 PM

Early Learning & K-12 Education (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 1

 
 

Energy, Environment & Telecommunications (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 4

 
 

Higher Education (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 3

 
 

Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs (H)

House Hearing Rm E

 
 

Commerce & Gaming (H)

House Hearing Rm C

 
 

Education (H)

House Hearing Rm B

 
 

Environment (H)

House Hearing Rm A

 
 

Labor (H)

House Hearing Rm D

 

3:30 PM

Transportation (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 1

 
 

Ways & Means (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 4

 
 

Finance (H)

House Hearing Rm A

 
 

Gen Govt & Info Tech (H)

House Hearing Rm C

 


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OSU and WSU make Top 25 in list of best undergraduate online education programs

The online education programs of two Northwest universities are considered by U.S. News & World Report to be among the best in the nation.

The magazine's annual rankings for undergraduate online education programs put Oregon State University in a tie for No. 5 and Washington State University's Global Campus in a tie for No. 20. Pennsylvania State University got the top ranking.

The magazine evaluated 296 online programs nationwide in four categories: student engagement, faculty credentials and training, peer reputation, and student services and technology

WSU's Global Campus offers eight undergraduate and 12 graduate degrees. It also offers a variety of certificate programs.

 

 

 

Lege could try to boost rural doctor program

OLYMPIA – The Legislature may direct medical schools to expand the number of physician residencies in Eastern Washington to provide more doctors for rural communities and family practice.

Rep. Larry Haler, the top Republican on the House Higher Education Committee, Friday told representatives of the University of Washington he wasn’t happy with the current ratio of residents getting their advanced medical training in Eastern Washington. Of the 1,500 resident slots in the state, 1,400 are in the Seattle metropolitan area, he said. They need to be spread out more for the east side of the state, “and by that I’m not talking about the Bellevue area,” he added. . . 

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Spokane mayor not taking sides in WSU, UW battle over medical education

Spokane City Hall may be on the verge of having two separate and potentially competing legislative agendas for the first time in memory.

The priorities unveiled last week, which included backing for Washington State University's bid for its own medical school, represent only the City Council's agenda, said mayoral spokesman Brian Coddington.

Mayor David Condon hasn't taken sides in the battle between WSU and the University of Washington, which wants to expand a five-state physician training program in Spokane. Coddington said the mayor simply is backing state support for expanded medical education here regardless of which university takes the lead.

The distinction could put Spokane's lobbying corps in a bind when the 2015 session opens in January since the city may end up with two competing sets of priorities. Condon is expected to issue the official city legislative agenda later this year.

Inslee keeping open mind on Med School control

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee said he’s keeping an open mind about which state university should operate a medical school in Spokane, but he has no problem with the two school using state resources to make their case to the public.

Asked Thursday whether the University of Washington or Washington State University should run a new school to train physicians in Spokane, Inslee said other questions that are more important to answer first. Among them are the true need for additional doctors, the most cost-effective solution and the effects any new system would have on the current five-state consortium to train doctors that UW operates.

“I do not go into it with any preconceived notions,” Inslee said during a press conference that also discussed public school funding and the state’s economy. . . 

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WSU professor, Spokane Police featured in CNN segment on crisis intervention research

A Washington State University professor of criminal justice and the Spokane Police Department have been featured on CNN for their collaboration on research into the physical and emotional responses of law enforcement in crisis situations.

As part of its "AC360" program hosted by Anderson Cooper, reporter Gary Tuchman visited a police confrontations lab run by students at WSU Spokane. Volunteers, including members of the Spokane Police Department, are placed in a virtual reality situation involving dramatizations of real-life confrontations, and their heart rate, brain waves and other vital signs are monitored as they make decisions about use of force.

You can watch the segment in its entirety below:



Professor Bryan Vila says the experiments are designed to determine the effect of training on decisions to use force in real-time.

"We still don't know if there's a connection between the training we give police officers and their performance in a combat situation," Vila says in the clip.

The CNN report was filed as part of its coverage into the shooting death of an unarmed teenager in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Spokane police highlight their involvement in the project as part of their ongoing efforts to train officers in crisis intervention, part of a settlement reached with the department in the wake of the death of Otto Zehm at the hands of former Spokane police officer Karl Thompson in 2006. Police have also turned to the classroom to practice and evaluate their techniques of crisis de-escalation.

Murray steers clear of med school controversy

SEATTLE – As she pushed for more graduate-level physician training in the region, Sen. Patty Murray did her best Wednesday to steer clear of the controversy over who should operate the fledgling medical school in Spokane.

Murray, who has introduced legislation to extend federal money for primary care residency programs, toured a south Seattle clinic that benefits from such a program. Specialists outnumber primary care and family doctors in America about 2-to-1, she was told, in part because specialists make more and have an easier time paying off the $250,000 in debts the average medical student has when finishing all training.

Washington could be short as many as 1,700 doctors by 2030, she said. The need for primary care physicians is already acute in poor urban neighborhoods like South Park, where she was visiting the Sea Mar Community Health Center, and rural areas.

Would that shortage be helped better by a second medical school in the state operated by Washington State University, or by having the Spokane-based school continue to be part of the control of the University of Washington's program, she was asked. . . 

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WSU Spokane offers Urban Goat certification classes


​So you want to keep goats in the City of Spokane? Under the recently passed Urban Livestock ordinance you will be able to starting May 9th ig you have taken an urban animal management class through WSU Spokane County Extension. The focus of the class will be to provide Spokane residents with the basics of keeping goats in an urban setting.

DATES: Thursday May 8 (20 seats) OR Thursday, May 22 (40 seats)
TIMES: 6:30 pm to 9 pm
LOCATION: WSU Spokane County Extension, 222 N. Havana, Spokane WA, 99202
COST: $20 per family at the same address.
PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Online HERE
By mail: Checks made payable to WSU Spokane County Extension and sent to the above address.

Innovate WA on the chopping block

OLYMPIA – A state agency with roots in Spokane’s 1980s push to attract more high-tech jobs to the region would be eliminated under legislation approved this week by the House.

Innovate Washington would cease to exist and its Riverpoint building, leases on other office space in the area, reports and even furniture would be turned over to Washington State University under a bill that passed Thursday evening on an 88-9 vote… .

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