Gavels fell at noon today to usher in the 2017 legislative session, scheduled to run 105 days and adjourn on April 23.

WSU is pursuing a series of priorities in the Legislature this year, topped by operating funding for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and construction funding for two agriculture research buildings in Pullman. You can find WSU’s legislative agenda here.

The university is seeking $10.8 million to support 60 first year and 60 second year students for its recently accredited medical school. Some 700 prospective students applied for the 60 available slots and interviews began on Friday. Classes start in August.

WSU also is seeking $97 million to construct the Plant Sciences Building and the Global Animal Health phase II project, both on the Pullman campus. The Plant Sciences Building will replace half-century old facilities to facilitate modern plant research and develop new varieties that enhance competitiveness and ward off disease. The Global Animal Health phase II project will be the new home of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, which accreditors have repeatedly warned needs a new facility. The lab monitors for animal diseases such as BSE, salmonella, avian influenza, West Nile Virus, pandemic flu, Foot and Mouth Disease and others.

The university is also supporting the Washington Competes agenda produced by the public baccalaureate sector and supported by the Independent Colleges of Washington and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. The agenda promotes new investments for high demand degrees in health sciences, STEM and teacher preparation, student success and compensation. Key items include better funding for the State Need Grant. And it also includes WSU’s request for new enrollments in Everett and Vancouver to support advanced manufacturing.

WSU also is supporting legislation to promote better use of open educational resources. The university has been a leader in this space to reduce textbook costs for students.