WSNA in Olympia: 2021 Legislative Session Week 1

In this week’s update:

  • Week 1 Recap
  • WSNA’s 2021 Legisla­tive Priorities
  • Local Public Health Listening Session
  • Senate Health Care Committee Hears from WSNA
  • Upcoming Events: Advocacy Camp & Lobby Day

Week 1

The 2021 Regular Session of the Washington State Legis­la­ture convened on Jan. 11. Lawmakers were in Olympia on Monday to pass rules that will allow them to conduct their business remotely for the remainder of session. Hearings and meetings with legis­la­tors are taking place over Zoom and are being aired on TVW.

Both House and Senate leader­ship are prior­i­tizing legis­la­tion that pertains to COVID response, economic recovery, racial justice, and climate change. Addition­ally, legis­la­tors will be charged with crafting and passing the 2021 – 23 biennial budget this session.

WSNA’s 2021 Legisla­tive Priorities

The WSNA Legisla­tive & Health Policy Council worked over the interim to develop a set of 2021 Legisla­tive Prior­i­ties that address some of the biggest issues that the pandemic has laid bare. Budget and policy prior­i­ties include:

  • School Nurse Funding 
  • Public Health Funding
  • Nurse Educator Funding
  • Health System Transparency
  • Worker Protec­tions & Workplace Safety
  • Racial Equity & Justice

Local Public Health Listening Session

On Monday, WSNA held a listening session with our members in local health depart­ments around the state to hear their thoughts on legisla­tive proposals to redesign the state’s local public health system which currently consists of 35 local public health agencies serving Washington’s 39 counties. Governor request legis­la­tion intro­duced in both the Senate and the House would create a work group to develop a region­al­ized system of Compre­hen­sive Public Health Districts” to super­sede the current structure.

WSNA members working in public health also discussed proposals to restruc­ture local Boards of Health. These boards are often comprised of County Commis­sioners; proposals this session seek to expand all local Boards of Health to include an equal number of health professionals.

The Governor’s proposed redesign comes with a dedicated, long-term funding source to help address the current $400 million biennial gap in state and local public health funding – a covered lives tax, a small assess­ment on each individual health insur­ance plan.

We will provide more infor­ma­tion on these proposals as they move through the process this session.

Senate Health Care Committee Hears from WSNA

On Friday, the Senate Health Care Committee held a work session on the impact of COVID-19 on health care service delivery. WSNA members Danielle O’Toole (ICU RN in Pierce County) and Paul Fuller (ICU RN in Chelan County) both presented on their experi­ences on the front­lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. WSNA Director of Public Affairs Jennifer Muhm joined the panel and discussed the many worker safety complaints that WSNA, along with UFCW21 and SEIU Health­care 1199NW, have filed with the Division of Occupa­tional Safety and Health (DOSH) within the State Depart­ment of Labor & Indus­tries. Many of these complaints have resulted in hospi­tals around the state receiving citations of serious viola­tions and fines.

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Upcoming Events

Just like the legisla­tive session, our Advocacy Camp and Lobby Day will be held virtu­ally this year. Join us – your voice is more essen­tial than ever.

January 25 Advocacy Camp
More infor­ma­tion and regis­tra­tion links are here.

February 4 WSNA Lobby Day
More infor­ma­tion and regis­tra­tion links are here.

This event is for WSNA members only.

Please look for regular email updates on legisla­tive action as the legisla­tive session gets underway – we look forward to your partic­i­pa­tion in the process!