Efforts continue in the Legislature on bills requested by the HECB to expand doctoral opportunities at branch campuses, to promote efficiency by eliminating certain HECB responsibilities related to local economic development entities, and to make changes in two targeted workforce scholarship programs.
HB 1586 authorizes the University of Washington and Washington State University to develop doctoral programs at their branch campuses, subject to HECB approval of specific degree programs. Currently, branch campuses are authorized to provide only baccalaureate and master’s programs. The bill, currently in House Rules Committee, was advanced one step closer to the House floor Feb. 25, when it was moved to the second step most bills go through while in Rules—moving from the Rules “review” list to the “consideration” list of bills.
A companion measure, SB 5315, was advanced to the Senate Rules Committee earlier in February. A more detailed look at these bills was posted previously in the Legislative Report.
HB 1424 and a companion measure SB 5483, would make certain changes in the Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program and in the Future Teachers Conditional Scholarship and Loan Repayment Program. The programs encourage teaching and health professionals to work in parts of the state where workforce shortages exist in those fields. Scholarship recipients who fail to complete service commitments they made in exchange for the scholarships are required to make repayments to the state.
The legislation is intended to create more consistent repayment requirements between the two workforce scholarship programs, and to improve administration and operational aspects of the programs.
HB 1424 passed the House on a 94-0 vote on Feb. 14, and is now before the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee. SB 5483 is in the Senate Rules Committee.
Two other companion bills, HB 1425 and SB 5484, concern HECB responsibilities under the Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA) program. Legislation passed in 2007 authorized creation of HSSAs to promote bioscience-based economic development and to advance new therapies and procedures for fighting disease and promoting public health. One HSSA has been established in Spokane.
Current law authorizes the HECB to approve or reject applications for designation as an authority, to adopt implementation rules, to develop evaluation and performance measures that gauge the effectiveness of the publicly-funded authorities, and to report to the Legislature on the program. The HECB subsequently hired an outside consultant to evaluate the Spokane program because it lacked staff with expertise in that subject area.
Under the new legislation, the HECB would no longer be required to report to the Legislature each biennium. The elimination of the reporting requirement is expected to save $66,000 next biennium. HECB suggests the Spokane HSSA could use established evaluation criteria to do their own measurements of program effectiveness.HB 1425 passed the House on a 98-0 vote Friday. SB 5484 has been advanced from the Senate Rules Committee to the Senate floor calendar.