State Relations

February 16, 2007

Taking Stock After a Long Week

As you can tell from the dearth of blog postings, this has been the most intense week of session yet.  Between individual appointments with legislators to lobby our operating and capital budget proposals and a head spinning number of committee hearings on bills that both please and concern the University, I have hardly had much of a chance to sit down and take stock of where we are after six weeks in the session.

Budget issues continue to fair generally well, although we are still at least one month away from the next revenue forecast and the release of our first legislative budget proposal.  Next week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education will release their budget recommendations for all educational sectors including higher education.  The subcommittee will hold hearings on February 21 and two additional hearings on February 22.  These are only advisory suggestions and will be forwarded to the full House Appropriations Committee for their consideration.

Much of our work this week on legislation deals with bills affecting personnel management and collective bargaining.  Previous blog entries have discussed the implications of SB 5514 and HB 1875 and the UW remains opposed to both bills which are wrestling with the long-standing issue of a large number of parttime faculty in the two-year college system.  We also continue to work with representatives from the Council of Presidents and PERC staffers on clarifying amendments to HB 1399 which would grant professional staff the ability to collectively bargain.  Many thanks to Cheryl Cameron from the Provost’s office and Lou Pisano from Human Resources for coming to Olympia this week to testify and work on these issues.

Yesterday, Provost Phyllis Wise and special assistant Harlan Patterson testified on HB 1385 sponsored by Rep. Fred Jarrett (R-Mercer Island) which would establish a comprehensive strategic direction for higher education.  Other academic officers from around the state praised the bill for taking a systemwide view of higher education looking at both funding needs and outcome measures.

UW athletic director Todd Turner made a rare visit to the state capital this afternoon for a meeting with state Senator Ken Jacobsen (D-Seattle).  The senator has introduced a bill (SB 5571) which would establish a student athlete bill of rights.  Of concern to the UW and other schools in the state is that the measure would in effect, prohibit the UW from participating in the NCAA or being a member of the PAC-10 conference.  The bill will be heard in committee next week.

Have a great weekend.  My next blog entry will preview the seventh week of the legislative session which includes the long-anticipated Higher Education Day celebration on February 20.