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Branch campus debate moves to state House of Representatives
MARYSVILLE And the story goes that they went back to Olympia and, with a few new wrinkles, did it all over again.
On Jan. 17, by all reports, an overflow crowd packed a hearing room in Olympia as the state Senates Higher Education Committee held a hearing on where to place a new Snohomish County branch of the University of Washington.
On Jan. 28, the whole scene played itself out again in a merely slightly different venue, as the state House of Representatives held its first hearing on the proposed new campus.
While not seeming angry, Mayor Dennis Kendall said he and others backing Marysville as a location for the new campus received about 25 minutes to make their case. He added that those backing the rival Everett site talked for an hour and a half.
It was a little disappointing, Kendall said. But we were there and we represented the city well.
As has been well advertised, a northern Marysville location along the Arlington border and an Everett site near that citys transportation hub are the two key contenders for the proposed new campus.
State Rep. Deb Wallace, D-Vancouver, chairs the House Higher Education Committee. Kendall said he spoke with Wallace after the hearing about the seeming disparity in time given to each side.
The comment was that they had four sheets of sign-ups and you guys, meaning us, had only one, Kendall said.
Wallace could not be reached for comment following the hearing. Kendall said the committee took no vote and gave no indication of when a vote might take place.
According to Kendall, despite some snow that fell the morning of the hearing, the Marysville contingent at the House hearing was virtually the same that showed up for the Senate hearing. The Tulalip Tribes Mel Sheldon also spoke in favor of the Marysville location before Wallaces committee.
If you guys are really, really looking toward the future, you need to be in Marysville, Kendall said he told representatives.
Kendall and others have long talked about the room the Marysville site offers for later expansion. Further, city backers have repeatedly refuted claims of groundwater problems at the location. Other issues also have been raised in recent weeks, such as the number of freight trains that daily pass through the Everett site.
Both the state House and the Senate now are entertaining seemingly competing bills, some pushing for the Everett transportation location, others backing Marysville and possibly one promoting Lake Stevens.
Introduced by State Sen. Paull Shin, D-Edmonds, a bill supporting the Everett location now sits in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Its unclear when that committee will act, but under Senate rules, the measure must leave Ways and Means by Feb. 12.
At a City Council meeting last week, some Marysville officials expressed dissatisfaction with the way the Everett bill was passed out of Shins committee. Kendall said the committee apparently met with little notice and, though he did not name names, added some state legislators were upset with how the issue was handled.
In response to Shins bill, State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, drew up legislation backing Marysville. According to a spokesperson for Haugen, that bill still sits in the Senate Higher Education Committee. Again following Senate rules, if it is to leave at all during this session of the legislature, that bill must leave the education committee by Feb. 8.
Weve got two weeks basically, said a source in Haugens office who asked not to be identified.
As Shin leads the higher education committee and has come out clearly in favor of Everett, does the Marysville bill have much of a chance of making it any further?
Im not sure, said the source, who added Haugens office is confident the Marysville bill will at least receive some consideration. Both the Everett and Marysville bills were described as not being completely exclusive or completely tied to one site or another.
As for the House, Rep. Dan Quall, D-Mount Vernon has introduced the pro-Marysville bill. Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, is behind the Everett legislation. As of late the afternoon of Jan. 28, both sat in Wallaces Higher Education Committee.
Just as Shins bill now sits in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, all the competing bills must pass through that committee, either in the House or the Senate. From there, legislation generally makes it way to a rules committee and finally to the full floors of both the House and the Senate.