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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

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.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.