SB 6409 passed off of the Senate floor with a 46-3 vote on Tuesday evening, the 37th day of session. The bill, sponsored by Senator Barbara Bailey of Oak Harbor, would create efficiencies in higher education by streamlining processes and eliminating unnecessary reporting requirements. This legislation is the product of many years of collaborative work by Evergreen, Western, Central, Eastern, UW, and WSU.
The bill is aimed at improving efficiencies and reducing costs in the following areas:
Art in Public Places: An institution of higher education may expend up to 10 percent of the one-half of one percent during the design phase of a project, in order to integrate the art in the building design. The one-half of one percent to be expended by the Arts Commission must be adjusted downward by the amount expended by the institution during the design phase of the project.
Capital Budget: The minor works project threshold for higher education institutions is raised from $2 million to $5 million to keep up with project cost inflation and better address the growing backlog of preservation projects.
Procurement and Contracting: Institutions of higher education that exercise independent purchasing authority for commodities are not required to notify the Department of Enterprise Services. The institutions may develop independent training or certification programs, or both, to ensure consistency in procurement practices. Each institution exercising its authority to develop independent training or certification must require employees responsible for procurement to complete the training or certification program.
Research Records: Institutions of higher education are exempted from the laws governing the release of individually identifiable records for research purposes.
SB 6409 will now head to the House Higher Education Committee for a hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.