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Collections up again in advance of key revenue forecast

Tax collections over the past month once again outperformed expectations, delivering a bit of good news leading up to Wednesday’s quarterly revenue forecast that legislative leaders will use to write their budget proposals this spring.

Since the November forecast used by Gov. Jay Inslee to write his proposal, collections are up $171.9 million, or 2.6 percent higher than projected once you back out one-time large payments that are not attributable to economic activity.

The report notes a cooling Seattle housing market and a notable reduction in agricultural exports. You can view the report here.

House approves Washington wine license plate bill to bolster WSU research

A bill that would create a Washington Wine specialty license plate and direct funding to support research at WSU Tri-Cities passed off the House Floor Wednesday afternoon with a vote of 86-9.

HB 2050 would give Washington drivers the option of purchasing a special license plate featuring a landscape display of Washington’s wine regions. Proceeds – expected to be in the region of about $60,000 per year — would go to the Washington Wine Commission to support research and collaboration with the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center at WSU Tri-Cities.  The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Check out the House floor debate below.

Senate approves HSSA of Spokane County bill

The state Senate yesterday approved legislation reauthorizing the funding mechanism for a key WSU Spokane research partner.

The 12-year-old Health Sciences and Service Authority of Spokane County helps drive funding to support life and health sciences research. For instance, the HSSA is a partner in WSU’s new Gleason Institute for Neuroscience. It has also helped fund the development of laboratory spaces for WSU researchers.

The HSSA’s funding comes from a local sales tax that is credited against the state sales tax. That authority expires Jan. 1, 2023.

Senate Bill 5596, which is supported by WSU, would extend that authority to Jan. 1, 2038. It was approved by the Senate Monday 48-0 and now heads to the House.

You can watch floor debate below.

Health sciences training bill clears House

A bill to enhance health sciences training opportunities brought by student leaders at WSU Spokane cleared the state House of Representatives 95-0 late Monday afternoon.

House Bill 1726 now heads to the Senate.

Under current law, nursing, pharmacy and medical students taking basic vital signs at health fairs and other such events must be supervised by faculty from their specific discipline. That requirement can limit such opportunities when faculty supervisors can’t be scheduled.

The bill approved Monday would allow supervision for all students by a single faculty member from any one of the disciplines. It is being supported not only by students but WSU itself as well as the state Nurses Association.

Watch the video below to see the House Floor Debate on HB 1726:

Bill benefiting WSU V&E program approved in House

The state House of Representatives on Friday approved legislation that would allow students under 21 enrolled in viticulture and enology programs at four-year universities to taste but not consume wine as part of their educational experiences outside the classroom. HB 1563 extends on legislation passed in 2015 to include grape-growing areas and wine production facilities as allowable places for supervised students to sip and expectorate wine as part of their educational training.

The bill, supported by WSU, passed through the House 89-6. It now moves to the Senate where it will begin the process again.

Watch the video below to see the House Floor Debate on HB 1563.

UPDATE: House Health Care passes ASWSU Health Sciences student-led bill

A panel of WSU College of Pharmacy students convened before the House Health Care & Wellness committee this week to show support for a bill they’re spearheading concerning services provided by health care professional students.

HB 1726 aims to address issues with the current law governing inter-professional student health care training by widening the scope of possible preceptors allowed to supervise health care student service activities. Under the current law, students are required to have a professional from their own discipline supervising them if they provide any type of health care service. In the event that preceptors are unavailable or forced to cancel due to unforeseen circumstances, students lose out on invaluable opportunities for hands-on training in their communities despite the fact that other health care service supervisors are available just outside their given fields. HB 1726 would increase opportunities for inter-professional training by allowing students in the fields of pharmacy, medicine and nursing to be supervised under certain circumstances by preceptors licensed in any of these fields so long as the students have documentation from their respective colleges showing they’ve met competency in the services being performed and also show coverage by appropriate professional liability insurance.

ASWSU Health Sciences students put a monumental amount of work into the construction of this piece of legislation. Pharmacy Students Brandy Seignemartin, Jennifer Robinson and Johanna Pantig led the production of the proposal and worked with stakeholders from Washington State Pharmacists Association, Nursing Association, Medical Association, Osteopathic Medical Association, as well as the WSU Colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy, and the Nursing and Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commissions to get their input on the bill and address their concerns. Stakeholders are now in full support of the bill, as is the WSU Colleges of Nursing and Medicine.

UPDATE: HB 1726 passed unanimously out of the House Health Care Committee. The bill will now move to House Rules where it will be considered for a vote on the House floor.

You can view the panel’s testimony in the video below.

WSU presents medical school progress report to Senate committee

Members of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee held a work session on meeting workforce demands in Washington State’s Health Care Industry this week and called WSU forward to present its case for how the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is addressing this major issue. Since the medical school’s authorization in 2015, the university’s mission has been to provide more physicians in core disciplines to rural and underserved areas of Washington. According to Ken Roberts, Vice Dean of Academic and Community Partnerships at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, the university is seeking to address this demand by focusing on the admissions process and curriculum structure to influence the outcomes of their mission goals.

By creating a targeted approach to their admissions process the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine has seen the formulation of a student body that positively represents the communities which the university seeks to serve. The combined first two classes of the medical school have included a student demographic which are:

  • 28% first generation college students
  • 31% students of color
  • 38% low-income students
  • 58% women
  • 44% over the age of 25 (higher than average and indicating a slightly more mature student body)
  • from 60 Washington communities
  • 100% are Washingtonians

“You don’t have out-of-state tuition at the medical school,” noted Senator Jeff Holy, “There’s a reason for that.” This is because the University is pulling its medical student pool directly from local communities around Washington State. As Dr. Roberts points out “if you want physicians to go back and practice in areas where it’s needed most, you need students coming into your medical school that represent residents from those places.”

The second focus on curriculum is driven by the selection of core disciplines the university will train students in and also where they will be trained in. The university will anchor student education at its four medical school campuses in Everett, Vancouver, Spokane and the Tri-Cities, before getting students “out into more rural spaces so they have a chance to bond and connect with the communities and medical practices there — and most importantly with the patient population that they are seeing in those places.” Currently the University as 79 clinical affiliation agreements with medical practices across the state – from Forks to Goldendale and from Grand Coulee to Longview.

Additionally, the University continues to raise funds to offset student costs. “I’m happy to report that we’ve raised over $21 million for the medical school that’s helping reduce the cost of education for our students,” says Chris Mulick, Director of State Relations at Washington State University. “Every student so far as has been offered a scholarship, and we have had students who can afford tuition reject the scholarship asking us to repurpose it towards other students who have greater needs. These are the type of students we’re recruiting.”

Check out the video below to watch the full presentation, including more information on WSU’s admission selection process and its curriculum plan.

Legislature cancels Monday schedule

Legislative leaders in both the House and Senate have cancelled Monday’s legislative activities due to uncommonly adverse winter weather conditions. This marks the first such cancellation for weather in recent memory – at least 20 years.

Many legislators spent the weekend in their home districts across the state, which has been pounded by snow to varying degrees with another system moving in today.

As of Monday morning, the Legislature was planning to returning to full operations Tuesday. That could be subject to change depending on the outcome of additional adverse weather expected for Monday afternoon.

Senate briefed on WSU hydrogen vehicle technology research

WSU Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Jacob Leachman was called before the Senate Transportation Committee today to provide an overview on his research in hydrogen fuel cell technology and its applications in the transportation sector. Leachman, founder of the Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research Lab at WSU, gave a brief introduction on the science behind hydrogen fuel cells before explaining to legislators how this technology can be applied as an alternative fuel source in all forms of transportation – from cars to buses to tractors – as a way to dramatically reduce fossil imports and CO2 emissions.

Leachman’s presentation also addresses the public misconceptions around safety with this form of technology and outlines what the infrastructure looks like for refueling and recharging hydrogen vehicles – infrastructure which is already being applied in other areas around the country and the world.

Video of the presentation can be viewed below.

WSU supports bill for viticulture, enology education

Washington State University enthusiastically endorsed new legislation regarding enology and viticulture student training during today’s House Commerce & Gaming committee hearing.

HB 1563 extends legislation passed in 2015 to allow students under 21 enrolled in enology and viticulture programs at four year universities to taste but not consume wine as part of their education. Since its passage, this legislation has significantly enhanced the quality of educational experience in classrooms, allowing them to better understand flavors and identify flaws.

Even so, students remain limited when it comes to field trip trainings in wineries and vineyards. HB 1563 would include grape-growing areas and wine production facilities on the list of allowable locations for supervised students to sip and expectorate wine as part of their educational training.

Video of WSU’s testimony on the bill can be viewed below: