Week five recap
For the first time anyone can remember, all committee hearings were canceled on Monday due to snow. The legislature reopened on Tuesday, and it was another busy week of hearings and meetings with legislators. Some highlights include fiscal committee hearings on our rest breaks bills, a House hearing on our workplace violence prevention bill, the introduction of a Senate companion bill on workplace violence prevention and a Friday hearing on the hospital rest breaks bill that we oppose.
Register for WSNA Lobby Day
WSNA’s Lobby Day is just over a week away! You can still register to join us in Olympia on Feb. 28 for WSNA Lobby Day. After a morning education session, we have scheduled meetings on the hill with your legislators. It’s a great opportunity to let your legislators hear directly from you on the importance of uninterrupted breaks and workplace violence prevention. You will also receive 2.75 CNE contact hours for your participation.
More information and Lobby Day registration links are here.
Rest breaks bill update
On Wednesday, our rest breaks bills (SB 5190 / HB 1155) had hearings in the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Ways & Means Committee. WSNA Nurse Representative Ed Zercher joined others in testifying in support of these bills. As the nurse representative for the University of Washington Medical Center for the last decade, Ed provided key insight into why we believe the fiscal note on this bill is flawed. You can watch Ed’s testimony to the Senate Ways & Means Committee here:
Your legislators need to continue hearing from you on this issue – please click here to email them if you haven’t already!
In an effort to derail the success of this legislation, the Hospital Association has introduced an “alternative” that would undermine worker and patient safety. SB 5344 adds language about rest breaks into an existing law, but this language simply maintains the status quo. Other language in this bill rolls back worker protections that exist under current law and sets a max working week for nurses at 60 hours! This bill had a hearing on Friday morning – both WSNA member and former State Representative Dawn Morrell and WSNA Executive Director Sally Watkins were on hand to testify in opposition to this bill and to clarify that without a change to the underlying state breaks standard for nursing, this bill will do nothing to improve the situation around rest breaks.
Click here to Take Action and tell legislators to protect patient safety and oppose SB 5344 and nurses working to exhaustion while they care for us and to support HB 1155 and SB 5190.
Workplace violence bill introduced
On Monday we learned that our workplace violence bill, HB 1931, would have a hearing in the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee on Tuesday. Testimony opened with bipartisan comments from two of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Mari Leavitt (D-28th LD) and Rep. Mike Volz (R-6th LD). Melissa Johnson, a lobbyist for WSNA, testified in support of this bill. You can watch the hearing here.
A companion bill was also introduced in the Senate this week, SB 5912 sponsored by Senator Karen Keiser (D-33rd LD) and Senator Maureen Walsh (R-16th LD). State Senators Mona Das (D-47th LD) and Joe Nguyen (D-34th LD) also co-sponsored this legislation. With the policy cutoff looming next Friday, it is unclear if the Senate bill will receive a hearing this year.
These bills update the definition of workplace violence, require health care facilities to update their workplace violence prevention plans every three years (with an annual review of incidents and any necessary adjustments) and outline what needs to be included in those plans, and provide specificity around what elements must be included in workplace violence prevention trainings.
Please look for regular email updates on legislative action as the legislative session gets underway – we look forward to your participation in the process!