Elson Floyd

The Washington State House Higher Education Committee held a hearing today to learn about House Bill 1559, which would – among other things – allow WSU to operate a medical school. WSU President Elson Floyd was among those testifying in support of the bill.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane), calls for a policy change and has no funding attached to it. A companion bill in the Senate – introduced by Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane), mirrors the House bill.

In addition to this policy change, WSU is seeking $2.5 million in startup operating funds to begin the process of accreditation for a medical school in Spokane.

Fast forward to the 1:05:35 mark in this video to watch the hearing.

So what’s next?

The House Higher Education Committee will decide whether the bill moves on. The Senate Higher Education Committee has yet to schedule a hearing for its bill.

Already, there are 65 co-sponsors of Riccelli’s bill. In the Senate, there are 18 co-sponsors. The $2.5 million would be included in the state’s operating budget, which the legislature must approve – with Governor Jay Inslee’s signature – by the end of April when the legislative session officially ends. Of course, there is always the chance of a special session if the legislature needs more time.

With K-12 education and transportation expected to dominate budget discussions, we’ll keep an eye on the medical school issue.

Learn more about WSU’s medical school plans at medicine.wsu.edu.