2023 legislative session

Every January the Washington State Legislature convenes for a new legislative session. Under the leadership of the WSNA Legislative & Health Policy Council, WSNA advocates on behalf of nurses to improve working conditions and patient safety.

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Table of contents

2023 legislative wins

Safe staffing standards

WSNA’s number one priority during the 2023 Legislative Session was to pass safe staffing standards. As a result of WSNA advocacy, the Legislature passed a version of our requested original proposal, SB 5236. SB 5236 improves Washington’s previous staffing law by increasing hospital accountability and reporting requirements.

Expand workers compensation for nurses with PTSD

  • SB 5454 changes the workers compensation standard for nurses suffering from PTSD from an occupational injury to an occupational disease. As an occupational disease, nurses can now qualify for workers compensation for their on-the-job PTSD based on an accumulation of events. (The previous law required that nurses tie their PTSD to a specific event.) The bill includes a presumption that if a nurse contracts PTSD, that nurse got it on the job, and it is on the employer to prove otherwise. The final version of the bill passed the House 57-40 and passed the Senate 30-18. The bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.
  • Washington state Labor & Industries is responsible for the implementation of SB 5454. For updates on implementation timeline and questions around eligibility, please check out their website.

Funding for higher ed nursing programs

WSNA successfully lobbied the legislature to invest more than $10 million in higher education nursing programs. Of the funding, $4.9 million was appropriated to Eastern Washington University to launch a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program for the 2023-24 academic year. Community & Technical college nursing programs will receive $3.6 million and more than $6 million in funding will go to four public universities to help increase the nurse workforce supply.

Multi-State Nurse Licensure Compact

In the 2023 Legislative session, legislators passed the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). WSNA has consistently raised concerns about the NLC, and while WSNA did not ultimately support the passing of SB 5499, WSNA was able to work with key legislators to add Washington-specific improvements to the legislation, including: 

  • Healthcare entities must report to the Nursing Commission every 30 days of employment all nurses who hold a multi-state license issued by a state other than Washington and an attestation that those nurses have completed the tasks required as a condition of employment.
  • As a condition of employment, compact licensees must complete the Washington-specific one-time suicide assessment, treatment, and management training.
  • Employers must report all demographic data surveys required by Washington’s Nursing Commission on behalf of their employed compact licensees.

The Washington State Board of Nursing (formally known as Nursing Care and Quality Assurance Commission) is responsible for implementing the legislation. Find updates including timelines on their website.

Weekly updates

Note: the 2023 legislative session has now concluded. 

Past legislative sessions