November 30, 2007

Special Session Update

By Randy Hodgins

It’s a bitterly cold Friday morning in Olympia and the one day special session is now history.  Not much to do yesterday other than catch up on paperwork, telephone calls and watch the House and Senate reinstate the 1% property tax limitation that was tossed out a few weeks ago by the Supreme Court.  Not too much drama either as the limitation bill passed easily from both chambers and was signed instantaneously by the Governor.  The most popular person in Olympia yesterday seemed to be some fellow called “Will of the People” who was referred to by virtually every speaker in committee or on the floor.  Perhaps I’ll get to meet him some day soon.

The previous Wednesday, the Senate Higher Education Committee held a hearing at 3:30 p.m. on the two North Sound campus reports prepared by NBBJ consultants and the UW.  I was on a panel of presenters with Debora Merle from the Governor’s Office and Martin Regge from NBBJ Consultants.  As has been the case with most legislative hearings on this topic, most of the questions and passion surrounded the NBBJ report which ranked the Pacific Station site in Everett as the preferred location for the new campus.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) and Sen. Val Stevens (R-Arlington) asked the most pointed questions of NBBJ as they have expressed their public support for the Smokey Point site in Marysville.  Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens) also asked many questions about the ranking of the sites and criteria chosen as he has been a public backer of the Cavalero site in Lake Stevens.  Committee chairman Sen. Paull Shin (D-Edmonds) did a good job of keeping the committee focused and allowing each of us on the panel to make our respective presentations.

While the ultimate location of the campus site remains in the hands of the state legislature, the Pacific Station site did get a boost on Thursday as the Everett Herald reported that Sen. Jean Berkey (D-Everett) has thrown her support behind the Pacific Station site.

Today, I will make presentations on UW North Sound to the House Higher Education Committee at 10:00 a.m. and the House Capital Budget Committee at 3:30 p.m.  More on those hearings in a future post.

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