News   Advocacy & Policy

Legislative Session Week 8


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Eighth week of Session

After the last week of floor action, many good pieces of legislation passed and are headed to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. Unfortunately, the Rest Breaks bill was not voted on by the Senate before Friday’s cutoff and is now dead for the 2018 session – a disappointing end to a bill that is so important for patients and health care workers. Session ends on March 8, and the last days will be spent passing bills and finalizing the 2018 supplemental budget.

In this week’s update:

  • Rest breaks bill
  • Bills headed to Governor’s desk
  • Senate and House supplemental budgets

WSNA’s 2018 Legislative Priorities can be found here.


Rest breaks bill

Unfortunately, the Rest Breaks bill was not voted on by the Senate before Friday’s cutoff and is now dead for the 2018 session – a disappointing end to a bill that is so important for patients and health care workers.

So many WSNA members and other health care workers contacted their legislators asking for this bill to pass. Thank you for all of your advocacy. After pushing this bill for a number of years, the bill moved further through the process than it ever has before this session. Thousands of emails, phone calls and letters from nurses helped to push it forward. We will continue to talk with legislators this interim about the importance of breaks for healthy workers and patient safety.


Bills headed to Governor’s desk

Secure Medicine Return: ESHB 1047 passed the full Senate by a unanimous vote, 49-0, making Washington the first state in the nation to adopt a Secure Medicine Return program that will be available to every resident of the state.

SANE Bill: This bill provides more training for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, and requires every community to have a plan to serve sexual assault survivors. HB 2101 passed the Senate unanimously, 48-0 (one member absent), and is now on its way to the Governor's desk.

Student Opportunity, Assistance, & Relief Act: 3SHB 1169 establishes the student opportunity, assistance and relief act to address student education loan debt, the repeal of statutes regarding professional license or certificate suspensions, private student loan default and exemptions for bank account and wage garnishments. The repeal of provisions allowing suspension of a professional license due to student loan default includes nursing licenses. WSNA supported this bill last year, and again this year. HB 1169 passed the Senate unanimously, 48-0 (one member absent). The House then concurred with Senate amendments, with a vote of 80-16. This bill is on its way to the Governor's desk.

Adding Advanced Degree in Health Professions to the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship Program: E2SHB 2143 adds advanced degrees (graduate and professional degrees) in health professions “needed in service obligation areas” to the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program, a public-private partnership to fund scholarships in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. This bill passed the Senate 48-1.

Collective Bargaining: Additional Compensation for Academic Employees at Community and Technical Colleges: EHB 1237 modifies collective bargaining law to allow academic faculty at Community and Technical Colleges to bargain for wage increases that exceed the amounts provided by the legislature. This will allow nursing education faculty (among others) to bargain for higher salaries. This bill passed the Senate 27-21.

Workplaces/Gender Pay Equity: 2SHB 1506 updates the existing state equal pay act to address income disparities, employer discrimination and retaliation practices, and to reflect the equal status of workers in this state. This bill was amended and passed in the Senate 37-12, and now goes to conference committee with the House to work out a final bill.

Additionally, two bills WSNA has supported are still waiting to be voted on in the Senate. These bills have fiscal impacts to the state budget, so were not subject to Friday’s cutoff.

Surprise Billing (Medical Debt): 2ESHB 2114 is waiting to be pulled to the Senate floor.
 
Address the Opioid Crisis: HB 2489, the Governor’s omnibus opioid bill, is waiting to be pulled to the Senate floor.
 
Please note that a more complete list of passed bills will be available in WSNA’s end of session report after the 2018 legislative session ends.


Senate and House supplemental budgets

Both the House and Senate have now passed their budgets – the House by a vote of 50-46; and the Senate by a vote of 25-23. Both budgets included a $1 billion investment in K-12 education per McCleary. Now budget writers from the two chambers will work together in the last days of session to reach and pass an agreed upon final budget.


Thank you for your participation during the 2018 Legislative Session!