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WSU Government Relations Newsbeat

Legislature adjourns, WSU agenda approved

The Legislature adjourned its 2018 session Thursday night, bringing to close a 60-day supplemental session that saw Washington State University’s legislative agenda approved in full.

The House and Senate on Thursday approved a budget agreement that fully funds WSU’s $1.272 million request to correct an oversight and fund last year’s legislation to expand and transfer the state’s solar energy incentive program to the WSU Energy Program. It also fully funds WSU’s $500,000 request to support the JCDREAM advanced materials research collaborative.

Also on the governor’s desk is House Bill 2443, a WSU-backed bill to add the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine to the Family Medicine Residency Network.

And earlier this session the Legislature approved a capital budget that included construction funding for two agriculture buildings in Pullman, design of a new academic building in the Tri-Cities and predesign of a new Life Sciences Building in Vancouver.

In addition, advances were made on other WSU supported priorities to provide State Need Grants to an additional 4,600 students statewide, reestablish the WSU-led Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Workgroup and establish a loan program for medical students who commit to serve in rural areas.

There were other wins to promote Open Educational Resources and access to the College Bound Scholarship for undocumented students as well.

All but the capital budget still need to be signed by the governor.

Budget agreement funds JCDREAM, Need Grant

Legislative budget writers on Wednesday unveiled a supplemental operating budget agreement that fully funded WSU’s $500,000 annual request to support the JCDREAM advanced materials research collaborative and provided funding to serve an additional 4,600 students with State Need Grants.

The budget agreement also breathed new life into plans to reconvene the Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Workgroup. A bill to do just that died last week, but language in the budget agreement reinstated the group and provided $20,000 annually to support it.

The budget agreement reconciles differences between proposals put forth by the governor in December and the House and Senate in February. Floor votes are expected tomorrow, the last scheduled day of this year’s 60-day legislative session.

The budget funded WSU’s two primary supplemental priorities. All three previous proposals already had funded WSU’s $1.272 million request to correct an oversight and fund last year’s legislation to expand and transfer the state’s solar energy incentive program to the WSU Energy Program.

But the funding for the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials was in question as it had been funded in two of the three proposals. WSU leads the legislatively approved advanced materials research collaborative with the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, with participation from other state universities and community colleges. The university’s request would fund the hiring of a full-time director and support staff and provide for a small competitive research grants program.

The House and Senate also compromised on their positions to better fund the State Need Grant, providing $18.5 million to reduce the ranks of students who are eligible to receive a State Need Grant but don’t receive one.

Medical residency bill headed to the governor’s desk

The state Senate gave final legislative approval this afternoon to Washington State University’s medical residency bill – HB 2443 – sending it to the governor’s desk. The bill received full support from the House earlier this month.

The bill recognizes the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine as an accredited medical school and adds it as a third co-chair of the Family Medicine Residency Network’s advisory board alongside the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.

The Family Medicine Residency Network was established in 1975 to support family medicine residencies in the state and encourage the development of new ones. State law was updated in 2015 and funding provided to incentivize hospitals and clinics to expand such programs and develop new ones. The advisory board also was established to make recommendations on the selection of areas where affiliated residency programs will exist.

Video from the Senate floor hearing on HB 2443 can be viewed below:

Medical residency bills awaiting final vote

A pair of bills that would add the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine to the Family Medicine Residency Network have advanced from policy committees in the opposite chamber and only one now needs a floor vote to be sent to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 2443 was voted out of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee Tuesday and today Senate Bill 6093 was heard and voted out of the House Health Care Committee. Both now advance to await a floor vote. Both chambers already have voted out their own version without a single dissenting vote.

The bills recognize the college as an accredited medical school and adds it as a third co-chair of the Family Medical Education Advisory Board alongside the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences.

The network was established in 1975 to support family medicine residencies in the state and encourage the development of new ones. State law was updated in 2015 and funding provided to incentivize hospitals and clinics to expand such programs and develop new ones. The advisory board also was established to make recommendations on the selection of areas where affiliated residency programs will exist.

WSU supports Open Educational Resources bill

Washington State University threw its support behind legislation Tuesday that calls for a pilot program to fund small grants to increase the use of no cost or low cost open educational resources.

House Bill 1561 is a holdover from last year and was voted off the House floor 72-24 earlier this session. Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee was its first of session. You can view WSU’s testimony below.

The bill would establish the grant program with the Washington Student Achievement Council, which dole out grants if funded for them. WSU already has self-funded small grant programs and use of open educational resources has been spreading as a result, particularly at campuses in Vancouver and Pullman and the Global Campus.

UPDATE: House budget funds WSU Energy Program, Need Grant but not JCDREAM

The supplemental operating budget proposal outlined by leaders in the state House of Representatives Tuesday funds a requested budget fix for the WSU Energy Program, makes a big investment in the State Need Grant but doesn’t fund the university’s request for the JCDREAM advanced materials initiative.

The university’s request of $1.272 million to correct an oversight and fund last year’s bill to expand and transfer the state’s solar energy program to the WSU Energy Program is now funded in all three budget proposals. The governor and Senate proposed funding it earlier.

Proposals by the governor and Senate also funded WSU’s $500,000 request to support the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials — a WSU led research collaborative with the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Lab – but the House plan unveiled Tuesday does not.

Both the House and Senate budgets make new investments in the State Need Grant. The House plan adds $25 million to reduce the ranks of the eligible but unserved by 6,200. The Senate plan provides $9.8 million to reduce those ranks by 2,500.

Both the House and Senate budgets will be heard in their respective committees this afternoon with the expectation of being moved out later this week. After both chambers vote their budgets off the floor, legislators will negotiate a compromise to send to the governor.

UPDATE: Below, you can view WSU’s Tuesday testimony on the House budget in the Appropriations Committee

UPDATE: Senate budget funds WSU Energy Program, JCDREAM

Leadership in the state Senate on Monday introduced a supplemental budget proposal that funds both of WSU’s operating budget priorities for the 2018 session.

The rewrite of the two-year budget approved last year includes $1.272 million to correct an oversight and fund last year’s legislation to expand and transfer the state’s solar energy incentive program to the WSU Energy Program. It also funded WSU’s $500,000 request to hire a full-time director for the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials. WSU leads the legislatively approved advanced materials research collaborative with the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, with participation from other state universities and community colleges. The request also includes funding to support a small competitive research grants program.

Both priorities were funded in the budget submitted in December by Gov. Jay Inslee. The House is expected to unveil its proposal tomorrow. Both the Senate plan and the House proposal are scheduled to be heard in budget committees tomorrow afternoon.

UPDATE: Below, you can view WSU’s Tuesday testimony on the Senate budget in the Ways and Means Committee.

Aviation biofuels bill heard in the House

Legislation to reestablish the Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Workgroup had its first hearing in the House during today’s meeting of the Technology & Economic Development Committee.

Washington State University testified in support of the bill along with sponsor Sen. Andy Billig and the Port of Seattle on SB 6563, which would require WSU’s Office of Clean Technology to convene the previously established workgroup of aviation biofuel stakeholders.

WSU issued support for the bill back in January when it was heard before the Senate Energy, Environment & Technology Committee. Since then the bill passed unanimously off the Senate floor. It is currently scheduled to be voted on in the House committee next week in advance of its Feb. 23 deadline.

The full video of today’s public hearing on SB 6563 can be viewed below

WSU Everett students take their research to Olympia

Four mechanical engineering students from Washington State University Everett represented WSU Tuesday at Undergraduate Research Day in Olympia.

They joined delegations from the University of Washington, Eastern Washington University, Western Washington University, Central Washington University and the Evergreen State College to present their research projects and answer questions in the Capitol rotunda. Representing WSU were students Ryan Durkoop, Megan Stanavitch, Alex Reeves and Matthew Miller.

Their senior capstone project has attempted to test whether the recently opened academic building on the campus has been as energy and water efficient as hoped and recommend improvements.

Building efficiency amenities include a rooftop solar array, the utilization of rainwater for use in and around the building to reduce the amount of water drawn from the municipal water system and the utilization of excess heat from the data center to augment building heating systems.

The students are making use of hundreds of different data points to determine whether the building is performing as advertised. Early indications are positive.

“It matches very closely,” Durkoop said.

In addition, students are studying the merits of utilizing a neural network to incorporate a form of artificial intelligence to predict when energy use could be curtailed. For instance, a heated classroom may need to be cooled once it is filled with students. But if class time were anticipated heating and cooling costs could be mitigated.

“We’re basically trying to put Siri in the building,” Stanavitch said.

Students started their day with a welcome from Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib in the Senate Rules Room. They then took to the Senate gallery to watch the Senate take up Senate Resolution 8683 to recognize undergraduate research. You can view video of the proceeding below.

They then made a quick visit to the Senate wings where they were greeted by Sen. Kevin Ranker, the chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee and resolution sponsor. From there they took their posts in the rotunda, answering questions about their research from legislators, lobbyists and other passers by.

Video of Senate Resolution 8683 can be viewed below.

WSU medical residency bill gets full support on the House floor

The House version of Washington State University’s medical school residency bill cleared a giant hurdle today as it passed unanimously out of the House during today’s floor debate with a vote of 98-0.

House Bill 2443 adds the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine to the Family Medicine Residency Network as a third co-chair alongside University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences. The bill previously passed out of the House Health Care & Wellness committee late last month and will now journey into the Senate to start the process over again.

Meanwhile, HB 2443’s companion bill SB 6093 passed out of the Senate Higher Education & Workforce committee last week and is currently sitting in Senate Rules waiting for a floor vote.

Video from today’s floor session on HB 2443 can be viewed below: