WSU Spokane Medical School

Today, Senate Bill 5487 – commonly known as the medical school bill – is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Ways & Means Committee, the committee that tackles budget issues related to legislative bills. The medical school bill in the House – House Bill 1559 – has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee. A hearing for that bill is yet to be determined.

A story in The Spokesman-Review today called these events a “detour,” and that’s indeed what this is – not a roadblock, not a setback. Just a detour.

Typically, bills get through the appropriate committee and then go to a full chamber vote. That’s the process explained in the classic Schoolhouse Rock video we’ve shared a time or two. But bills that have budget implications also go to their respective budget committees. SB 5487 and HB 1559 are both simply policy changes, with no budgetary stipulations attached to them. But since these bills will lead to budget action – and we are asking the legislature for $2.5 million in funding to work through the medical school accreditation process – they get hearings to talk about money.

As Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina) said in that Spokesman story, this situation isn’t uncommon. Hunter is the Chairman for the House Appropriations Committee.

With 18 co-sponsors in the Senate and 65 in the House, support for these bills is wide and bipartisan. The legislative session runs until the end of April. There were many steps to take to get to where we are at, and there are more steps to come.

You can watch today’s hearing starting at 3:30 p.m. at TVW.org.