Government Relations


Stressing the importance of higher education

This past weekend the Spokesman-Review published an op-ed piece co-written by Washington State University Spokane chancellor Lisa Brown and Eastern Washington University president Mary Cullinan. The article showcases the benefits of better funding higher education, especially for the Inland Northwest region that needs educational opportunities and graduates in high-demand fields to meet up with the demand of the growing population.

As legislators approach the end of this year’s 2015 legislative session they will tackle the issue of how best to enhance affordability of higher education while still preserving educational quality and enhancing access to high demand degrees. Brown and Cullinan stress the positive influence higher education has on Eastern Washington’s economic growth, too.

You can read the full article here.

Bill for enology, viticulture education sent to the governor

The state Senate passed legislation today that would allow students under 21 to taste but not consume wine in enology, viticulture and related programs. HB 1004 passed with a vote of 38-6 and is on its way to the governor’s desk.

Currently, community and technical colleges are authorized to apply for special tasting permits for students enrolled in similar courses. House Bill 1004 would include regional and state universities to the list of institutions allowed to apply for these permits. This would improve the educational experience for students in enology and viticulture programs by allowing them to taste the wines they will one day have a hand in making.

Video of the Senate’s floor hearing on HB 1004 can be viewed below.

Governor, lawmakers celebrate 25 years of branch campuses

Left to right: UW Bothell Chancellor Bjong Wolf Yeigh, WSU Chancellor Brown, Governor Inslee, WSU Chancellor Moo-Young, WSU Chancellor Netzhammer and UW Tacoma Chancellor Mark Pagano

Chancellors look on as they receive recognition

Left to right standing: Chancellors Moo-Young, Brown and Netzhammer stand for recognition by the State Senate during the Senate’s floor action this morning

Governor Jay Inslee and the State Senate recognized the 25th anniversary of the five branch campuses of Washington State University and the University of Washington today, the 92nd day of the 105-day regular legislative session.

The morning began in Governor Inslee’s office where he presented each chancellor with a signed copy of a proclamation to “reaffirm our shared dedication to educational excellence and access to higher education for all Washingtonians,” as the document reads.

The State Senate later passed Senate Resolution 8663 to honor the founding legislation of the branch campuses.


Left to right: Chancellor Moo-Young, Chancellor Brown, WSU Director of State Relations Chris Mulick and Chancellor Netzhammer

Legislation passed in 1989 allowed WSU to open branch campuses in Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver, and the UW to do the same in Bothell and Tacoma. With the mission of expanding access to higher education in Washington state, the branch campuses also drive economic development by strengthening the regional workforces they serve.

WSU Chancellors Lisa Brown, Keith Moo-Young and Mel Netzhammer respectively leading the WSU Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver campuses traveled to Olympia to join UW Tacoma and Bothell leadership in the celebration.

Video coverage of the Senate’s remarks on resolution SR 8663 can be viewed below.

Session Kicks into High Gear

What’s coming up this week:

Congress has reconvened from its two-week recess and faces an ambitious timetable.

The April 15th Budget Deal deadline set by the Republican led Congress is quickly approaching. Quibbles over the Department of Defense and the need for a balanced budget, lead the way in tedious talks and negotiations.

Republicans remain hopeful that they will be able to produce a budget at some point in the near future.

Visitors in DC:

Greater Spokane Incorporated, Spokane Washington’s only Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, will be in DC this week to discuss Spokane specific issues that range from education to transportation.

Dr. Timothy V. Baszler, Director of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, will be meeting on the Hill to advocate on behalf of the work of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory has contributed and share the benefits of this work to Washington State.

The Word on the Hill:

The presidential race of 2016 seems as though it is right around the corner. With a recent announcement from presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton and this week’s anticipated deceleration from Senator Marco Rubio, the election platform is slowly beginning to solidify.



Comparing the House and Senate budgets

Both the House and Senate have unveiled their respective operating and capital budget requests and legislators will begin negotiating final budgets to send to the governor’s desk in the coming weeks.

The WSU budget office has prepared side-by-side analyses incorporating original WSU requests compared with budget proposals from the governor, House and Senate. You can find the operating budget analysis here and the capital budget analysis here.

WSU has registered its support for both operating budget proposals and both capital budget proposals produced by the House and Senate even as there are differences between them.

You can find WSU’s testimony on the Senate capital budget from this week below.

Week Two of Recess

Over halfway through the two-week recess, Congress will reconvene for session on Monday the 13th.  During the first week of recess, Senator Cantwell and Congresswoman McMorris-Rodgers traveled back West, joining Governor Jay Inslee, for an energy summit hosted by WSU’s Energy Systems Innovation Center.

This week Dr. Yogendra Gupta Director for the WSU  Institute for Shock Physics will be visiting DC to discuss his research and work both on and off the Hill. Also in town will be Dr. Guy Palmer who the founding director of the Allen School and currently leads disease control programs in East Africa and Latin America as well as directing the Robert R. Fast Laboratory at WSU. Dr. Palmer will be discussing his work with infectious diseases and the Paul G Allen School of Global Health.


Governor, community leaders celebrate passage of historic legislation

spokaneinsleeGovernor Jay Inslee and Spokane leaders came together in Spokane yesterday to join Washington State University leadership and the WSU community in celebrating passage of historic legislation allowing WSU to operate a medical school.

The medical school bill, HB 1559, was signed by the governor on Wednesday, amending a nearly 100 year old law that limited medical education to the University of Washington. WSU is now clear to establish, operate and maintain a school of medicine within the state of Washington.

“We’re all Washington State Cougars today, to celebrate a Washington State University medical school,” Inslee told several hundred community and university leaders, students and dignitaries in Spokane Thursday.

WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown welcomed all to the WSU Spokane campus, followed by remarks from WSU President Elson Floyd, WSU Board of Regent Chair Mike Worthy, WSU Spokane Advisory Board Chair Marty Dickinson and Governor Inslee.

Afterward, Inslee spoke privately with a contingent of several dozen students on hand representing each of WSU’s campuses.

Media coverage from Thursday’s event can be found here and here.

History in the making: WSU medical school bill signed into law

signing_0897 (2)

Gov. Jay Inslee this morning signed House Bill 1559 into law, authorizing WSU to pursue medicine as an academic discipline.

The measure amends a 1917 law that restricted medical education to the University of Washington. Under this year’s bill, WSU is authorized to pursue accreditation with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in hopes of enrolling a charter class at WSU Spokane in 2017.

The measure was approved by the House 81-17 and by the Senate 47-1 oSigning_1741 (3)n its way to the governor’s desk.

WSU is now authorized to pursue its vision for a community based school of medicine, with students completing their first two years of instruction in Spokane with third and fourth year clerkships occurring in actual clinical settings across the state. In doing so, the university hopes to provide more access to in-state students who now leave the state to pursue a medical education, ultimately producing more primary care doctors for underserved Washington.

President Elson S. Floyd, in an online column posted this morning, hailed the event as historic for the state and university.

Video from this morning’s bill signing is below.

WSU offers support for Senate budget

The state Senate unveiled its proposed operating budget earlier today and the Ways and Means Committee heard testimony this afternoon. WSU weighed in with its support.

The Senate proposal provides $2.5 million in start-up funding for WSU’s request to pursue accreditation for a new medical school in Spokane. Additionally, the Senate funded $4 million to bolster STEM degree production at the university.

It also funded half of WSU’s $4.5 million request to bring four new degree programs to the Everett University Center. The university has proposed to offer new programs in software engineering, data analytics and agriculture as well as for Central Washington University to offer an aviation management degree.

The Senate proposal also would provide funding to backfill a 27 percent tuition reduction at WSU over the next two academic years. The budget also funds small compensation increases for university employees.

Video of WSU’s testimony can be viewed below.

WSU testifies in support of House budget

WSU offered up testimony in the House Appropriations Committee this afternoon supporting the operating budget proposal introduced Friday. Video will be posted below when available.

The proposed House budget funds WSU’s $2.5 million request for start-up funding for a new medical school in Spokane.

It also funded three of four requested academic programs that would be brought to the Everett University Center. WSU is requesting $4.5 million to bring new programming in the first year of the two-year budget cycle. The House budget provides $1.8 million to bring WSU programs in software engineering, data analytics and agriculture beginning in the second year of the two-year budget cycle.

The House budget also provides $1 million to bring electrical engineering to Olympic College in Bremerton and fully funds compensation increases of 3 percent this year and 1.8 percent next year.

The proposal also freezes tuition for the next two years, provides $53 million to provide coverage to more State Need Grant recipients and $60 million to expand access to Opportunity Scholarships in some STEM fields.


Colleen Kerr, Vice President for External Affairs and Government Relations. 901 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2900, Seattle, Washington 98164. 509-335-5756. Contact Us.